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Q: Do wills expire? How often should they be replaced?

A: Wills don’t expire. If the will is properly executed and it is valid, it’s good whether it’s 10 months or 10 years old.

Now having said that, it’s a good idea to pull it out once in a while and go over it. Not because it’s invalid due to age but because things may have changed and it needs to be updated. Wills generally grow with the creator but it’s a good idea to take a look every now and then just to make sure that it meets your needs. If you blow the dust off of it every five years or so, that should take care of it.

I would also suggest that you take a look at your will after life-changing events. Wills sometimes need some attention after things like divorces and deaths. After a life-altering event, it’s always a good policy to review the estate plan.

Q: I added my brother’s name to my home years ago. I want to remove him and add my nephew. My brother has agreed to it. Can he sign an affidavit or do I need a deed?

A: I suggest using a deed. Since your brother is in the chain of title and holds an ownership interest, it needs to be conveyed back to you to be extinguished.

However, before I add your nephew to the home, I would suggest that you consider other options.

Remember that when you add someone to the title, you give them an interest in the property. Although your brother has agreed to transfer his interest, he could have easily said no. If your brother wouldn’t cooperate, you would have what we attorneys call a real mess.

Granting someone an ownership interest in your home is a big deal and it shouldn’t be done unless the circumstances require it. If your goal is to avoid probate, you could easily use a transfer of death deed and avoid a lot of potential problems.

I’m not saying that it’s never a good idea to convey an interest in real estate to someone for estate planning purposes. However, before you do so, make sure you understand all of the risks that go along with the conveyance.

Thanks for the questions.

Christopher W. Yugo is an attorney in Crown Point. Chris’ Estate Planning Article appears online every Sunday at www.nwi.com. Address questions to Chris in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or to Chrisyugolaw@gmail.com. Chris’ information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant, or estate-planning specialist.

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