Pennsylvania’s estate laws recognize that it is common for name changes to occur, whether it be due to marital status or otherwise. But even so, it is important that your Last Will and Testament clearly states who your intended beneficiaries are. Follow along to find out what happens when an individual has their name changed after you write your will and how a proficient Butler County will preparation attorney at Heritage Elder Law & Estate Planning LLC can still make this valid.
What happens if a name is changed after I execute my will?
Say, for instance, that one of your beneficiaries has gotten married since you drafted your will. And with this, there is a possibility that their name has changed. Rest assured, this may not necessarily be a problem if your wording was specific enough.
One way you can do so is by stating your exact relation to your beneficiary (i.e., writing “my only daughter” or “my first granddaughter,” etc). By doing so, your intended beneficiary cannot be logically confused with another individual. All in all, this helps to ensure that your beneficiary’s personal choice to change their name does not negatively affect their inheritance.
When does changing a name become an issue?
As you can likely infer, a name change can become an issue for your will if it was not clear in the first place.
For one, the executor of your will must confirm the identity of your intended beneficiary, and they must do so under oath. An example of how your executor may come across a predicament is if you have a daughter and granddaughter with the same first name. With a last name change, and without specifying your relation to them, it may be confusing for your executor to determine who you were referring to. With this, the following issues may arise:
- Your executor may accidentally distribute your estate to the wrong individuals.
- The Pennsylvania court may rectify your will.
- The Pennsylvania court may rule that your will is invalid.
How can I avoid these issues when executing my will?
You must understand that the wording of your will is very sensitive to interpretation. Meaning, the slightest miswording can derail your estate plans entirely. So, it is helpful to execute your will alongside one of the talented Butler County estate planning & probate attorneys.
Rest assured, we will ensure that your wording is specific enough so that any unexpected name changes will not create significant confusion for your loved ones. So, whenever you are ready, give our team a call.