When to Update Your Will
A will is an important estate planning document that describes how your property should be distributed after you pass away. Most people put a lot of thought into creating their will. They consider providing for their family, naming guardians for their children and supporting various charities, for example. They properly execute their wills and make sure that they are put in safe places where they will be easily accessible when they are needed. Once that is accomplished, it is easy to cross it off of the list of things to do and forget about it. However, a will is a document that should be periodically reviewed to make sure that it still meets your inheritance objectives.
Common Situations When a Will Should be Reviewed
A will should be periodically reviewed every few years to make sure that it still accurately reflects how you want your assets to be distributed when you die. It is particularly important to review your will when:
- You get married: you likely want to add your spouse to your will when you get married. Some states require that a spouse inherit a percentage of your property regardless of a will but that may be less than you intend your spouse to inherit or, pursuant to state law, your spouse may not inherit anything.
- You get divorced: in order to ensure that your ex-spouse does not inherit your property upon your death your will must be revised at the time of a divorce, assuming that your spouse was included in the will that you are revising.
- You have children: when you have children you may wish to name a guardian and set up a financial trust for the economic well being of your children should you pass away before they reach the age of majority
- Your children reach the age of majority: you may wish to change the amount that you provide for your children or change the way in which the money or property is provided to them when they become adults.
- You have grandchildren: if you want to provide specific bequests of money or property to your grandchildren then your will needs to be revised to reflect the changes.
- Your financial situation changes significantly: you may wish to provide for additional beneficiaries or add charitable beneficiaries to your will if your financial situation significantly improves. You may also need to revise your will to account for estate tax implications.
- You move out of state: different states have different estate taxes and you may need to revise your will to account for the different tax structure. Therefore, it is important to have a local estate planning attorney review your will when you move to a new state.
How Can I Update My Will?
There are two ways to update your will. You can either legally revoke your previous will and execute a new will or you can execute a codicil to your existing will. Generally, if you are making small adjustments to your will then a codicil, or amendment, is a cost efficient and legally enforceable way to update your will. For example, if you now have a vacation home to bequeath then you may do so by executing a codicil to your existing will. A codicil must be executed in the same way that a will is executed in your state.
If you are making substantial changes to your will, such as including or excluding a person and significantly changing the allocations of your property then you may wish to revoke your will and execute a new will. An estate planning attorney can help you develop and execute a codicil or a new will based on what is appropriate for your individual situation.
Search LawInfo's Wills Resources
Additional Wills Articles
How to Contest a Will
A will is designed to distribute property and assets in the way in which the deceased person intended them to be distributed. Accordingly, a will that is … More
Is a Will's Validity Affected When You Move Out of State?
A large number of retirees, and those who are planning on retiring, look to move to a new state to enjoy a different lifestyle than the one they had while … More
How to Amend a Will
Sometimes a person executes a document that he believes to be his last will and testament. Assuming that the document is properly drafted and executed, the will … More
How to Write Your Own Will
In order for your assets to be distributed according to your wishes at the time of your death, it is important that you have a valid will in place when you … More
Estate Planning Tools for Wealth Transfer
Proper estate planning does not leave all the transfer of all of your money and assets until the time of your death. Many people, particularly those who have … More
Living trusts have grown in popularity over the last two decades. A living trust (or an inter vivos trust) is a common estate planning tool as well as a tool to … More
You Can't Take It With You So Why Not Make a Will?
A Last Will and Testament is one of the most important legal documents a person can create during his or her lifetime. If a person dies without a Will they are … More
Estate Planning Sub-categories
Codicil (Will Amendment)
Last Will and Testament