What happens when someone dies but their Will was not updated to reflect changes in their life circumstances?.

UPDATED: Feb 11, 2015

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What happens when someone dies but their Will was not updated to reflect changes in their life circumstances?.

My father died and left a Will stating his business (although he just retired) and house goes to his 3 children. However, after he wrote the Will he remarried but didn’t update it. Where does the rest of the assets go like property jointly owned as well as bank accounts? Does it go to step mom or split between us children 50/50.

Asked on February 11, 2015 under Estate Planning, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The non-updated will will be enforced or honored as best as possible.

Assets jointly owned with his new wife will be hers--for example, a home jointly owned or a joint bank account simply becomes hers alone, as the survivor, and as such is not part of his estate and is not distributed according to any will.

Those things that were his alone and thus were part of his estate will be distributed if possible, but if an asset no longer exists (like, say, a defunct or dissolved business) obviously cannot be distributed.

Things he owned prior to his re-marriage and which were not given to, put into the name of, jointly titled with, etc. the new wife are the main things that will be distributed as per his will, to the exent they still existed and were owned by him at the time of his death.

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