Updating Estate Planning: Amend or Replace?

I meet frequently with clients who have in place estate planning documents to which they want to make changes. Perhaps the documents are very old and family and life changes (since the time the documents were signed) necessitate re-addressing their provisions and goals. Or perhaps a major life change has just occurred (marriage, divorce, death) and related document changes are needed to reflect a new reality of circumstances. In any situation where changes are needed, it is always a top priority to take the most efficient (and most cost effective) route to making those changes. Often times, a simple amendment to an existing document will reach the desired outcome at a minimal cost. Other times, needed changes may be so comprehensive so as to favor replacing a prior document with a new document. While the particulars of any situation inevitably vary, our goal is always to get the best and clearest outcome—with as little cost and difficulty as possible.