When do I need to update my will?

Last will and testament estate planning documentA will is an important estate planning document for your future, but it’s not a static document. A will should be reviewed periodically as life changes affect your family life and assets. Specifically, you should contact your lawyer to update your will when these situations change.

You have additional children (or need to add beneficiaries)

Failing to include additional children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren in your will can have unfortunate consequences for those children. Without a legal document, your children would not receive any inheritance, and your beneficiaries would have no legal obligation to split any inheritance they receive from your estate. It can also stir up difficult during a very trying time. For example, if you divorce, remarry, and have a child with your new spouse but don’t update your will, your new family could be left without a share of your estate.

You want a new executor

Many people think of a will as a catch-all document with stipulations for almost any situation; actually, a will’s only purpose is to dictate the distribution of your assets.  The distribution of assets is carried out by an executor named in your will.  If your executor has passed away, or you want to name a new family member, friend, or party as your executor, ask your lawyer to update your will with that major change.

Your family relationships have changed

Families are complicated. When relationships change—for the better and worse—your will can be updated to reflect those changes. At times, some families divide and reconcile; if you feel that your family dynamic has changed, contact your lawyer to make changes to your beneficiaries. Another change that dictates a change is an unfortunate one: if someone named in your will passes away. For example, if the person you chose to serve as guardian for your children dies, contact your attorney to update your will with a new guardian.

You have a significant increase (or decrease) in assets

A will contains a list all your assets, a guardian for any minors in your care (if applicable), and list of beneficiaries of your assets (people or organizations that receive items or funds).  If you sell any of the assets listed, or obtain other assets, contact your lawyer to make alterations to the list. In the same way, if you inherit any assets, check with your lawyer to see if those assets should be added to your updated will.

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