Individuals change their names for various reasons, including personal wants or simply because of a change in their marital status. If a will in which they are included has not been altered to reflect their new name, people who have changed their names may be concerned about how this would influence their inheritance. In many circumstances, the answer to this issue boils down to the language used in the will itself.

Even though the law understands that it is normal for individuals to change their first or last names, people continue to produce wills too ambiguous to explain their intentions adequately. Name changes, among other issues, may lead to even more uncertainty and conflict. The law’s ultimate purpose is to carry out the wishes of the departed person who has written a will. If it is apparent who the intended beneficiary is, the law will make sure that they get their inheritance, even if the name on the will is no longer valid under the circumstances.

When Changing the Name of a Beneficiary Is Not a Problem

The language of the will and the way it is written will determine how complex the distribution of assets will be. As part of their preparation, an expert writing lawyer will generally ensure that the language is explicit enough to prevent any name changes from causing substantial misunderstanding.

When people make their wills without the assistance of an estate lawyer, they are more likely to encounter difficulties because they lack the knowledge and experience to anticipate such issues or because they are unsure of how to express their intentions other than by simply using someone’s name. It is often difficult for the executor of a will to identify a beneficiary who has changed their name, making it difficult for the beneficiary to collect their inheritance.

When a Beneficiary’s Name Change Creates a Complication

When the language of a will makes it unclear who the intended recipient of an asset is, complications might develop throughout the estate administration process. That is particularly important in cases when the beneficiary’s name has changed after you drafted their will, and the executor must verify that they are the intended beneficiary. You may request an executor to prove this under oath if the executor feels it is necessary.

If it is not apparent who the will-writer meant to identify in their will, the courts may revise the will to correct the mistake, or in rare situations, they may declare the whole will void. In other circumstances, the executor may have misunderstood who the testator intended to nominate, resulting in the estate being divided erroneously without the testator’s knowledge or consent.

Two Ways to Avoid Problems with a Name Change in a Will

1 – Include Relationship in the Will

In an ideal world, will-writers would modify their wills whenever someone listed in the will changes their name or any other changes that may influence their inheritance. While this is an excellent method of avoiding issues during the estate’s administration, solutions are available for people who cannot regularly update their will. The will-writer may include information on each beneficiary, such as their relationship to one another, their last known residence, and their date of birth, in addition to other pertinent information. With all of this information, executors may be 100% assured that the person named in the will is meant to be named, even if the person’s name has changed.

2 – Create Codicil

When a beneficiary’s name changes, the will-writer might include an addendum to ensure no mistake about who is who. A codicil is a document produced to add extra information to a will to make it more complete. That is less difficult to write since the will-writer does not have to create a new will to make changes to an existing will that has already been written.

Final Thoughts

Experienced will-drafting attorneys can ensure that your will is explicit enough to allow for changes in the names of beneficiaries without producing confusion in the text of the document. Occasionally, when the will does not identify the connection between each beneficiary and the other, lawyers will create notes that specify the relationship between the beneficiaries. If you want assistance with the preparation of your will or the alteration of your will, call an experienced estate lawyer immediately.

If you are looking for the best wills and estates lawyer to help you with any name-changing process along the way, you can always rely on Dreyer Davison Family Lawyers. We are committed to providing you with the best interest! Call us today so we can assist you further!