What If I Have More Children After I Execute a Will?
If you have children after executing your will, the best way
to avoid inheritance problems is to keep your will up to date. Any time a family change occurs that will
alter your beneficiaries, you should revise your will. This can be accomplished by preparing a new
will, or by adding an amendment, called a codicil
to your existing will. A codicil is a
formal supplement to your will and must conform to the same requirements.
Leaving property to your children by name,
rather than by “class” can make distribution very complex if you do not change
the will when subsequent children are born.
If, for example, you name each of your three children, giving one third
of your estate to each one, and you fail to revise your will when child number
four is born, that child is considered
“omitted.” In Washington, an
omitted child must receive a portion of the decedent’s estate, unless it
appears from clear and convincing evidence that the child was omitted
intentionally. The court will award an
omitted child an amount equal in value to that which he/she would have received
if the parent had died intestate. This
often happens only after considerable time and expense in proving the testators
Some wills and trusts are
written to anticipate the possibility of additional children, thus protecting
the interests of any future children.
For example, language such as the following may be used: "If, subsequent to the
execution of this will, an additional child or children shall be born to me,
such child or children (or issue thereof) shall share in the benefits hereunder
the same as my children named herein."
This wording only works, however, if all the children share
equally under the will. If each child is
to receive specific property or unequal shares, additional problems will
arise. You should always make a new will
whenever life-changing events, such as the birth of a child, occur.