If you’ve taken the time to create a will, you’re ahead of most other people. Unfortunately, many do not begin this process until it is too late. However, if someone in your will changes their name, you may be left wishing you had waited a bit longer to create this document. If you’re worried about how a recent name change will impact your will, you’ll want to keep reading. You’ll learn what happens when a beneficiary changes their name and how a Washtenaw County wills attorney can help you navigate any issues that could arise.
What Happens to a Will if There Is a Name Change?
If someone you named in your will legally changes their name, you may start to panic. You may think that because their new name doesn’t match what’s on the will, they won’t receive their inheritance. However, this is not true. For example, if you leave your home and car to “your daughter, Mary Smith,” but she gets married and takes her husband’s last name, she will still receive her inheritance. Even though her name is now Mary Miller, the intent of your will was to leave these assets to your daughter, Mary.
Your daughter may not even have to provide evidence of a name change, but in the rare circumstance that she does, a birth certificate or marriage license would suffice.
When Could This Pose an Issue?
There are some issues that could arise if a beneficiary changes their name. For example, if you leave your entire estate to “Mary Smith” without specifying your relationship, it could cause issues. Say your married daughter is now Mary Miller, and you have a grandchild named Mary Smith – the executor has no way of knowing who the intended recipient of the inheritance is.
In this instance, there are there three standard ways to proceed. Your executor could leave the inheritance to the wrong individual, the state could invalidate your will and distribute the assets according to intestacy laws, or the state could step in to rectify the will.
How Can I Avoid Problems With My Will?
If someone in your will undergoes a name change, there’s no need to panic. However, if you want to ensure that they receive the inheritance as intended, you can create a codicil or amendment that updates the information in the document.
In the chance that you have not created a will yet, ensuring you specify the relationship you have with the beneficiary can help clear up any confusion that may arise should someone’s name change.
When you have questions or concerns about your will, ensuring you contact an experienced estate planning attorney is essential. Collis, Griffor & Hendra have the experience you need to navigate any situation that may arise concerning your last will and testament. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help you.