Drawing up your will may have been an uncomfortable task you were eager to put behind you. However, updating your will from time to time can ensure that it continues to protect the same things it protected on the day you created it.
Plans change, people change and circumstances change, which is why you will want to regularly review your will, especially in the following six situations:
- It's been several years since you created it: Regularly revising and reviewing your will leaves less chance that someone will challenge it based on it being outdated.
- You have been married, divorced or widowed: Marital status changes will affect numerous estate planning elements like asset distribution, guardianship of your kids and tax implications.
- You have gained or lost substantial assets: Your will should reflect your current financial situation, so when significant changes occur, you should be sure your will is updated to avoid confusion.
- You have children, or your children have children: If a child is left out of a will, purposefully or not, it can lead to familial disputes and contentious legal battles.
- You change your mind about beneficiaries: Estrangements, reconciliations and family ties can change over time and affect how your want your assets distributed.
- You move to a new state: Estate planning laws vary by state; if you move to a new state, then adjusting your plans may be necessary.
While these are not the only times it can be a good idea to review an estate plan, they are some of the most common situations that can affect how and if the various terms set in will are carried out.
It is also important to note that leaving behind an updated, comprehensive will that accurately reflects your wishes can make probate easier on your loved ones and beneficiaries by minimizing the opportunities for others to contest it.
Should you have questions about revising your will, discussing them with an experienced estate planning attorney can be a good step in ensuring your estate plan continues to be enforceable and reflective of your wishes.