If you write up a will in New York and then don’t have any major life changes — like a divorce or the birth of another child — you may just assume it still works. Some people sit on their wills for 10 or 20 years without changing them. However, the reality is that these wills definitely could be out of date due to changes in the laws.
For example, as of April 14, 2003, wills must conform to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA. While HIPPA was created all the way back in 1996, people were given until 2003 to comply. A will that was not altered to do so is out of date.
Another important date is Jan. 5, 2005. As of that time, you may have to pay estate taxes at both the state and the federal level. Additionally, there were tax credits that applied in the past that were phased out in the early 2000s. This was done under the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act of 2001, or EGTRA. If you were counting on those credits and wrote your will with them in mind, it may also be out of date.
As you can imagine, a lot of people have wills that just don’t work anymore, and they don’t even know it. They know their own lives have not changed and that the wills worked with the laws when they were written, so they assume everything is fine. This is a dangerous assumption, and it’s important to look at the changes to the law to decide when to refresh a will.
Source: Forbes, “Why Your Will May Be Out Of Date,” Dan Prebish, April. 28, 2015