Does a will have to be changed if there is a new addition to the family?

Young couples growing their families often realize they need to do estate planning.  At minimum, wills after the birth of their first child.   This is an important step in making sure they have 1) their choice for who the child’s guardian will be in case of an accident, and 2) they have a trust provision in place so their chosen person can handle the child’s money until he/she is of age.

Then they have a a second child after they have signed their documents.  Do they need to get new documents?  Is child 2 just left out because he/she came along later?

The short answer is no, child 2 is not left out.  Texas law provides for this scenario.

The term for child 2 born after the signing of the will is pretermitted heir.  This  assumes that if child 2 had been here at the time of the will signing he would’ve been included.  In other words, it is assumed the parents did not intend to leave anyone out.  So if new wills were never signed, child 2 would inherit an equal share with child 1.

Should parents have new wills prepared?  Of course people can always update wills to reflect new circumstances.  So long as a person is mentally competent  he/she can have new documents prepared.  I had someone argue recently that a well person can be blocked from changing his will.   That person was wrong and it is clearly stated in the statutes that anyone can change any provision of his/her will so long as they have mental capacity to do so.

For my clients, I typically tell them to review their documents every 5 years or so, which is a good idea especially when children are young and a changes are made to the family.

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