Does a 17 year old Will need to be updated if there are no changes?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Does a 17 year old Will need to be updated if there are no changes?

My parents made a Will and gave us copies of it, including a homestead and some other legal paperwork.

They don’t have any changes on it and want to keep the instructions in the Will as is without making changes.

My sister and I are mentioned in it along with my mother and when my mom is deceased it defaults to us but we are concerned that since it’s rather old that we have to update it. Is that true? I’ve been told by friends that it isn’t true and we do not have to do anything since there are no changes my parents want in it. Do we need to update the Will an other legal papers that my parents gave to us about 16-17 years ago?

Asked on August 28, 2019 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Wills never expire or go stale, which makes sense when you think about it: a person might do a will in his or her 20s then live until his or her 90s. Since no one knows how long they will live, wills are good indefinitely. They only need to be changed if what the person wants to do changes or changing circumstances means they can no longer be carried out (e.g. the testator, or person making the will, left everything to his sibling with no back-up beneficiaries, but the sibling died before him).

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