14 Oct How often do you need to update your will?
Updating your will is a complicated question that can depend on a number of factors. For some people, it may not be very often. For others, a will may require frequent attention.
For starters, do you have a will? Has it been reviewed by a professional? The majority of Americans (76 percent) believe that having a will is important and yet less than half of Americans (40 percent) actually have one.
If you do have a will, you know the peace of mind it can provide for you and your family. Knowing with certainty that your estate will be settled according to your wishes is a comforting feeling. Being able to share your plan with your family and your executor can alleviate stress and ultimately help prevent a mess they would otherwise have to deal with.
However, just because you’ve completed a will, had it reviewed by a professional and shared it with your family, that doesn’t always mean you’re finished.
Here are seven reasons why you should update your will.
Death of a spouse or loved one
Often times, married couples leave the bulk of their estate to one another. If your spouse passes away, you will want to revisit your will to make appropriate changes.
The same goes for any loved one you’ve designated in your will. For example, if you have three children and you’ve divided your estate into thirds among them, if one of them should pass away, you will need to make adjustments to your will.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s often overlooked. That’s probably because, in most states, any designated gifts to the spouse are automatically revoked. But what happens next can get tricky.
Where those gifts are redirected can depend on the language of the will, and the former spouse can still contest the will, dragging out probate sometimes for years. It’s much easier to just sit down with an attorney as a part of the divorce process and update your will.
On a happier note, if you’ve gotten married or remarried, you will want to add your new spouse (and perhaps their children or other members of your new family) to you will.
Your children become adults
If your children were under the age of 18 when you wrote your will, you’ll want to update the will when they become adults.
Change of executor
When you originally wrote your will, you likely named an executor. Executors are in charge of settling debts, canceling payments, distributing property and inheritances, and working with attorneys to administer the estate. But as things change in your life or the executor’s life, there may be reasons you’d prefer to go with a different executor.
Changes in income or expenses
As you retire, your level of income will likely drop. This would be a great time to review your investments and your Social Security benefits to gameplan for your financial future. You may find you need to make changes to your will. As Americans are living longer, there is a greater need for assisted living or at-home care, both of which can be expensive. You may need to adjust your will accordingly.
It’s been a while
Even if none of the above has occurred, it’s always a good idea to take a fresh look at your will every few years. If you haven’t reviewed it in three or more years, there could be changes to the law or changes in your life that need to be reflected in your will.
If you need additional information on when to update your will, please contact the Law Office of Michael Craig.