Notice that the title is not “if” you need to update a will, but “when.” A will is like the family pet—it can protect the house and demonstrate your love for your family. However, you have to take care of it.
People often comment when they complete their estate planning, that they feel so good to have done this very important task. It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve made the necessary preparations to protect your family and preserve your legacy. However, this is not a one-and-done event.
Thrive Global’s recent article, “7 Reasons Why You Need to Review your Will Right Now,” says it’s extremely important that you regularly update your will to avoid any potential confusion and extra stress for your family at a very emotional time. As circumstances change, you need to have your will reflect changes in your life. As time passes and your situation changes, your will may become invalid, obsolete or even create added confusion, when the time comes for your will to be administered.
New people in your life. If you do have more children after you’ve created your will, review your estate plan to make certain that the wording is still correct. You may also marry or re-marry, and grandchildren may be born that you want to include. Make a formal update to your estate plan to include the new people who play an important part in your life and to remove those with whom you lose touch.
A beneficiary or other person dies. If a person you had designated as a beneficiary or executor of your will has died, you must make a change or it could result in confusion, when the time comes for your estate to be distributed. You need to update your will, if an individual named in your estate passes away before you.
Divorce. If your will was created prior to a divorce, and you want to remove your ex from your estate plan, talk to an estate planning attorney about the changes you need to make.
Your spouse dies. Wills should be written in such a way as to always have a backup plan in place. For example, if your husband or wife dies before you, their portion of your estate might go to another family member or another named individual. If this happens, you may want to redistribute your assets to other people.
A child becomes an adult. When a child turns 18 and comes of age, she is no longer a dependent. Therefore, you may need to update your will in any areas that provided additional funds for any dependents.
You experience a change in your financial situation. This is a great opportunity to update your will to protect your new financial situation.
You change your mind. It’s your will, and you can change your mind whenever you like.
No matter how good it is, the will that was created four years ago is not necessarily the right will for you now. Tax laws have changed and your life probably has had some changes too. You may not need to revise the entire estate plan, but sit down with an estate planning attorney for a review. Don’t neglect your beneficiary designations—they need to be reviewed and updated too.
Reference: Thrive Global (June 17, 2019) “7 Reasons Why You Need to Review your Will Right Now”