Estate Planning Matters - July 2016
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Happy Birthday America!

This month we celebrate the birthday of our nation. It is a day to celebrate the freedoms that we have that were born out of the events that make the 4th of July so special. My family and I were lucky enough to recently visit our capital and while we were there I was able to see the original Declaration of Independence.

An interesting fact that I learned was that although the Declaration of Independence was voted on and approved by the thirteen colonies on July 4, 1776, the document itself was not signed by all of the representatives until August of 1776. John Hancock was the first to sign it and make it official. (Hence the saying “put your John Hancock on it”.)

Now you may ask, what does this have to do with estate planning? “Put your John Hancock on it”. In other words, put it in writing and make sure you sign your estate planning documents (based on the applicable state rules for your documents).

I often have clients who come in and tell me they want to change their estate plan, or if the don’t have anything in place, they tell me what they want. After I take my notes and discuss it with them, we set up a follow up appointment for them to come in and sign the documents I need to prepare. One question that comes up often is “what if something happens to me before I come back in to sign it?” Many people think that just by telling an attorney what they want, will result in the changes taking affect immediately. Unfortunately that is not the case, your estate planning wishes will not be carried out until you have put them in writing and signed the documents.

Because of this I suggest that you don’t wait until the last minute (or until a crisis occurs) to take care of this. If you need to make changes to your estate plan (or get one in place), call us. We can help you get your documents updated and signed to make sure your wishes are carried out.

In the mean time, have a great 4th of July!

Patrick J. Roth, Esq., CPA

Article Index
Happy Birthday America
Be Careful If You Want To Make Changes To Your Will
Get Organized
Monthly Recipe


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Be Careful If You Want To Make Changes To Your Will

If an estate plan isn’t kept current, it can become useless. You always want to make sure your will is up-to-date with your wishes, your financial circumstances, and current tax and other laws.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that changing a will is not a “do-it-yourself” process. Generally, any changes to your will must be made with the same formalities as the will itself, including witnesses and signatures.

In the past, some people have tried to make changes to their will by simply crossing out some parts and writing in others. Not only are these changes unlikely to be legally effective, but in some circumstances they can result in the entire will being declared invalid. At the very least, they can result in a lengthy and expensive court proceeding to sort out your wishes.

If you only want to make a simple, specific alteration – such as naming a different executor or updating a child’s name that has changed – a codicil may be appropriate. A codicil is a separate, short document that makes an amendment to a will. A codicil still has to be formally dated, signed and witnessed. Be sure to always keep the codicil with the will so your personal representative (Executor) can find it easily.

If you have a significant change to make to your will, such as adding or removing a beneficiary, or if you have more than one change to make, it’s generally better to simply write a new will. The updated will should include the date and a clear statement that all previous wills and codicils are revoked.

As always, before you make any changes to your will, you should consult with an attorney.

Get Organized!

As I mentioned in the first article, get your estate plan in writing. To follow up on that thought, if you really want to try to make things as easy as possible for your loved ones, you should also let them know where to find things. You can download our free Estate Plan Organizer to help you with this task. Once you fill out the Estate Plan Organizer, your loved ones will not only know where to look for your critical documents, but they will also know who they should contact. Click here to get your copy and when you are ready to prepare your plan, call us. We would love to help you through this process.

Recipe Corner - Pina Colada Fruit Salad
(Serves 9)


  • 1 1/2 Cups Green Grapes
  • 1 1/2 Cups Seedless Red Grapes
  • 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Blueberries
  • 1 1/2 Cups Halved Fresh Strawberries
  • 1 Cup Pineapple Chunks
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Rasberries
  • 10 Ounces Frozen Non-Alcoholic Pina Colada Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Pineapple-Orange Juice
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Coconut Extract


  1. Thaw Frozen Non-Alcoholic Pina Colada Mix

  2. In a serving bowl, combine the first six ingredients.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk the pina colada mix, sugar, juice, and extracts until sugar is dissolved.

  4. Pour over fruits and mix well.

  5. Chill until serving.

  6. Enjoy!

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Roth Elder Law | 145 Chemung Street, Corning, NY, 14830 | Tel: 607 962 6162 |
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Patrick J. Roth, Esq., CPA 145 Chemung Street Corning NY 14830 USA
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