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An outdated will can present challenges in estate administration

Being an executor or power of attorney often comes with its challenges. Outdated estate plans can make the process particularly tricky, in part because the wishes outlined in the legal documents may not align with what the deceased communicated to beneficiaries.

Families can prevent these estate administration challenges by regularly reviewing and updating their wills.

Estate plans have no set expiry date, but that doesn’t mean that they reflect a testator’s current wishes years after drafting. An individual could draft a will as a young adult, and have it ruled valid when he or she passes away 50 or 60 years later. In fact, it's not overly uncommon. However, circumstances could change dramatically over those decades. Families can grow, marriages can break down and new assets can be acquired.

Powers of attorney should also be reviewed regularly, as those decisions are often impacted by relationships that can change. For example, the person who seemed to be the best choice for power of attorney may move to a different province. Or, the person originally named could have had a falling out with the testator. The best choice for these designated individuals, along with executors, trustees and beneficiaries, could change over time.

While powers of attorney and wills do not expire per se, using older documents can come with estate administration challenges. Some businesses, like banks, may raise an eyebrow at a power of attorney named 20 years ago, as they could be concerned the old document was revoked or outdated at some point.

Creating an estate plan is important. But that’s just the first step. It’s equally important to review and update your estate plan regularly, to ensure it still aligns with your current wishes and circumstances.

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