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When to Update Your Will

Updated March 13, 2024.

A Will is a crucial document for your estate plan, serving as a blueprint for the distribution of assets, guardianship of dependents, and the execution of one’s final wishes. However, amidst life’s ever-changing circumstances, it’s easy to overlook the necessity of periodically reviewing and updating this vital legal instrument. So, when exactly should you revisit and update your will?

Major Life Events

  • First and foremost, any major life event should prompt a review of your Will. Such events include marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, or the passing of a loved one named in the Will.
    • Marriage does not automatically revoke a pre-marital Will, necessitating the creation of a new one to reflect the changed circumstances and (most likely new) beneficiaries. Conversely, a divorce will automatically revoke any dispositions of property or appointment of Executor to the ex-spouse but won’t affect other provisions to that ex-spouse’s children or siblings or other family members, making an update imperative to ensure your wishes are accurately represented.
    • The birth or adoption of a child brings new responsibilities and considerations. Updating your Will ensures that your child’s future is secured, whether it involves appointing a guardian for that child, establishing a Trust for the minor child, or adjusting allocations of inherited property.
    • The death of a beneficiary or nominated executor necessitates revisions to avoid complications during the Administration of your estate and confusion as to its property distribution.
  • Change in Financial Status

  • Beyond significant life events, changes in financial status warrant a reassessment of your Will. A significant increase or decrease in wealth, acquiring new assets, or changes in business ventures should all prompt a review to ensure that your Will reflects your current holdings and intentions. It can be important to update your Will in light of financial changes to avoid disputes and unintended distributions of your estate. For example, if you sell a piece of real estate that your current Will gifts directly to one child, that gift is void. But it can be disheartening and frustrating for that beneficiary if you don’t update your Will to remove reference to the voided gift.
  • Law and Regulation Changes

  • Changes in laws and regulations may necessitate updates to your Will. Tax laws, inheritance laws, and estate planning regulations undergo revisions over time, impacting the future effectiveness of your Will. Staying informed about these legal developments and consulting with legal professionals can help ensure your Will remains compliant and effective.
  • Change in Priorities and Preferences

  • Lastly, as you age, your priorities and preferences may evolve. Retirement, health concerns, and shifting family dynamics may influence your intended distributions of property, healthcare directives, and end-of-life care decisions. Regularly reviewing and updating your Will allows you to adapt to these changes, and ensures that your wishes are accurately reflected, thus providing peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

In conclusion, creating your Will is not a one-time task but rather an ongoing process that should coincide with significant life events, financial changes, legal developments, and personal considerations. By staying proactive and regularly revisiting your Will, you can ensure that your final wishes are upheld, and your legacy is preserved according to your intentions.

The estate planning attorneys at Lacy Katzen are able to help you craft or update your Will so you can have peace of mind that your wishes have been legally documented. Contact us today, we are here to help.

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