Estate Planning: Is Changing Your Will Easy?

One advisor asks:

My clients left a one-page document with my assistant.  They wanted me to witness their signatures. They left a message saying the paper was a codicil to change their wills.

The clients had found the form online and filled it out.

Question:  Should I agree to be a witness?

Ed’s answer:

A codicil is a simple document to amend a will. It is still a legal document. As such, it affects the estate rights of family and beneficiaries.

What you think?

This simple, one-page, harmless document can:

  • change a designation on an RRSP or a life insurance policy
  • create huge unknown tax liabilities
  • disinherit  a dependant

Any of these changes create legal exposure for advisors. Who do you think will be responsible if something goes wrong?

The simple answer: you should refer the client back to their lawyer. Acting as a witness to legal documents leads to claims of negligence, or worse.

But what if the clients say they won’t go back to the lawyer?

I can hardly blame some people when they tell me this.

I have read some wills that make no sense. The paragraphs go on for pages, with confusing legal terms. You can get a headache just trying to understand them.

Your job is to explain to clients why they need to invest in proper legal advice.

But some clients may not want to pay a lawyer.

So, how do you explain to clients that they need proper legal advice?

I wrote Estate to the Heart to make it easy to explain what clients need to know. It is a quick read in plain language.

Clients say it helps them understand how to plan their wills and estates for loved ones. I give everyone who comes into my office a complimentary copy.

You can use Estate to the Heart to promote your estate planning services. Click here to learn how.

Want to learn more estate planning secrets?

Have a question for Ed? Ask away.