Your will is the backbone of your estate plan. It gives you the power to decide how you want your property distributed when you die or who will care for your minor children. However, as the years go by, your wishes and priorities may change, and your will may need an update. While we recommend updating your will regularly, this article will cover five reasons that may propel you to give it another look.
You Experience a Significant Increase or Decrease in Assets
Throughout your lifetime, you’re likely to experience asset increases and decreases. Perhaps you started a business or had to close one. Maybe you had some luck in the stock market, or unfortunately had to spend your savings on unexpected medical care.
Major changes to your assets may affect how you wish to have your property distributed. Additionally, if you’ve added significant assets since drafting your will, such as the purchase of new vehicles, you will need to assign those assets to your chosen beneficiaries.
Your Family Relationships Change
If you first set up your will when you were in your twenties, it’s safe to say your family structure will look a bit different by your later years. You should update your will any time there’s a major relationship change in your life.
A marriage, birth of a child, or adoption will all add beneficiaries that you should put in your will. With minor children, your will should reflect who you wish to become their guardian if something were to happen to you and your spouse.
Similarly, you should change your will after a divorce, the death of a beneficiary, or just as relationships naturally change over time. If you pass away without an updated will, you may leave your family trying to track down assets you no longer have to give to people you no longer have a relationship with or are no longer alive.
A proper estate plan is meant to make your death as easy as possible for your loved ones, but an outdated will can cause issues and animosity between your beneficiaries.
You Move to a New State
Estate laws can change drastically depending on what state you live in. When you die, the laws of the state you reside in will be used to administer your will, not the state where the will was drafted. If you’ve moved since first writing your will, you should have a lawyer in your new state review all your estate planning documents.
The Laws Regarding Estate Transfers and/or Taxes Change
Even if you haven’t moved, you should check in periodically with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure your estate planning documents align with current estate and tax laws.
You Want To Better Reflect Your Desires
As this article has shown, wills are not set in stone, nor are they meant to be. You don’t necessarily need a reason to update your will, you can just do it at any time to reflect your feelings and priorities. As life goes along, best friends may become casual acquaintances, beneficiaries may become financially successful and not need your assets, or maybe you’ll become passionate about new causes and want to donate your assets to those causes. What goes into your will is your choice and you have the freedom to change those choices as often as you want.
While you can update your will from the comfort of your home, it is wise to check in periodically with an experienced estate planning attorney. That’s why we created the Legacy Care Program, which provides you with annual updates to your estate planning documents as laws, and your life, change. Our Legacy Care Program also provides a multitude of other benefits including periodic asset reviews, discounts on future services, and so much more. Contact us today to plan for your future.