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Your Will: Overhaul vs. Update

Because change occurs in our lives all the time, it is important to keep estate plans up to date. But how do you know which situations simply require updating your existing will with a codicil and which ones necessitate a whole new will? This guide can help.

Draft a New Will
Your marital status has changed. You'll need a new will if your spouse dies or you get divorced, especially if you've left your estate to your former spouse. If you are remarried, include your new spouse in your will.


Your children are grown. If you created a will when your children were young, you'll likely need an overhaul. If they are old enough and financially stable, you may no longer need provisions for guardianship or trust funds.

You move to a different state. Legal requirements of a will vary from state to state. Consult an attorney in your new state to ensure your will is still valid.

Update Your Existing Will
Your executor's situation has changed. Has the executor, guardian or trustee named in your will moved or passed away? Update your plans to reflect these changes.


You want to make changes to an inheritance. For example, you would like to change the amount of money you'll leave to a sibling from $25,000 to $50,000.

You wish to make a charitable gift in your will. This simply requires including a few lines in a codicil—a legal instrument made to modify an earlier will. See below to find language you can share with your attorney when remembering us in your will. Contact Shira E. Oler at 301-610-8344 or soler@jssa.org to learn more.


Sample Bequest Language
I bequeath [the sum of _________ dollars] [all the rest, residue, and remainder of my estate] [an amount equal to _____ percent of the net value of my estate] to the Jewish Social Service Agency (Tax Identification number 53-0196598), a nonprofit organization located in Rockville, Maryland. [Optional:] It is my intent that this bequest be used for the area of greatest need at the time it is received. [or a specific program].

For the purpose of supporting a Specific Fund or Named Endowment:
You may designate your bequest to support any of JSSA's existing endowments (e.g. child and family services, seniors, special needs), or to establish a new or named endowment fund. In order to do so, please contact us before finalizing your will to discuss necessary wording and minimum giving levels and to ensure that JSSA can fulfill your wishes. If you would like to associate the name of a loved one with your bequest, we would be happy to discuss memorial recognition opportunities as well.

Exact Legal Name: Jewish Social Service Agency
Address of Principal Office: 200 Wood Hill Road, Rockville, MD 20850
Tax Identification No: 53-0196598
Contact Person: Shira E. Oler, Director of Gift Planning and Major Gifts
Telephone: 301-610-8344
E-mail: soler@jssa.org


Test your knowledge
Take our quiz to see if your will measures up.



Copyright © The Stelter Company, All rights reserved.

The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, please consult an attorney. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes apply to federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.


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