Question:  My wife and I wrote basic wills many years ago.  I would now like to change the percentages of shares I leave behind to my children. However, my life-long family’s lawyer tells me I can’t change my will.  Am I bound to leave everything equally to my children?

Answer:  Asking for a second opinion was smart.  Rather than offering unbiased advice, your former lawyer was simply trying to “keep the peace” in your family.  The truth is: you can change your will at any time.

I had the chance to review your basic wills. Your wife and you left everything to one another.  Your kids are listed as equal alternate recipients.  There are certain trusts available, where alternate recipients are “locked in”, preventing spouses from changing the plan.  You did not have such a trust.

In fact, because you both owned all assets jointly, everything is yours now.  You decide who gets your assets.  Choose children, charities, or friends, because, you are not stuck with your old will.

Your kids need to stay on your good side, if they wish to stay in your will.  This is good advice for all of us.

Attorney James Haroutunian practices real estate law, including estate planning.  Contact him at with questions or at the Haroutunian Law Office at 790 Boston Road, Billerica, 978-671-0711 or email at

Hand, Write, Pen, Paper, Letters, Will

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