Do you know when to update your will? Does it even exist yet? Not everyone considers the importance of this document, much less when to revise it.
However, any family law attorney or civil lawyer can help you understand how crucial these documents are. Once you draft your will and have it in a safe place, it’s easy to forget about it, though. So, do you need to revise your will?
If so, when? At Nguyen & Chen, our attorneys recommend an update to your will after any major life event. If that sounds too vague, a good rule to follow is to review it every 4-5 years, even if everything seems pretty much the same.
Once you understand when to update your will, the document helps to protect your interests and your family. Moreover, it ensures that everyone knows and respects your final wishes.
Updating Your Will After Major Life Events
Knowing when to update your will is simple enough. Whenever you experience a major change in your life, take the time to review and revise the document with your attorney. Below, we look at some major life events that are great signals that it’s time to revisit it.
The Birth or Adoption of a New Child
Whether you birth a child or adopt someone, you want to provide for them. Moreover, you want to ensure your will names a legal guardian for them as well.
For many people, a sudden increase in wealth is a pleasant surprise. However, it also has the potential to place you in a higher tax bracket. In turn, this creates estate tax considerations. Additionally, you might wish to change your beneficiaries.
Whether you want to increase gifts, leave a legacy donation to a charity, or add new beneficiaries, it’s important to make it known in your will.
In some cases, people create a living trust. That allows them to provide for loved ones without the expense and delay that comes with probate.
Changes to Your Marital Status
After a divorce, wedding, or death of a spouse/partner, it’s time to update the beneficiaries of your will. It might also be a good idea to revise power of attorney for financial and medical situations when you cannot.
Additionally, unlike your biological or adopted children, stepchildren do not have an entitlement to your property, legally speaking. Should you want to include them, you can list them as beneficiaries.
Changes to Laws
Tax and estate law change over time. Sometimes, this makes other options more attractive. For example, you might want to shift to a living trust or a transfer-on-death account.
Deterioration of Health
In the face of a diagnosis of a terminal illness or degenerative disease, your will is not the first thing on your mind. However, it’s still important to remember that this is when to update your will. While you still have the mental and physical capacity to revise the document, it’s a good idea to do so.
If you wait too long, it leaves the potential for beneficiaries to argue changes were made in diminished capacity or under manipulation. When you want to update your will or begin to give assets away sooner, it’s important to have the information of your estate accurate.
You Want to Change Beneficiaries
Over time, feelings and relationships change. It’s common to have a change of heart about who to leave assets to. Often, people believe this shift happens only after a major fight.
However, it’s quite common for people to change their minds for numerous reasons – not all of which are negative. For instance, you might decide to leave a larger portion to someone in need, but their financial situation improves.
Alternatively, you might become involved with a charity and want to leave a legacy gift to support it after you pass.
After Financial Setbacks
In some cases, wealth decreases. Whether you lose money to stocks or a cryptocurrency, wealth is rarely static. If this happens, it’s a good idea to revise your assets as well as your beneficiaries.
Moving Across State Lines
Part of knowing when to update your will is knowing the laws of your state. From state to state, the estate laws change. One example is the number of witnesses necessary to make a will valid.
While some states might accept a valid will from another state, it’s important to be certain. When you work with an attorney, you have a better chance to avoid legal pitfalls.
Becoming a Grandparent
When you hope to provide for your grandchildren in a will, revise the document with each new addition to the family.
How Often to Revise Your Will
As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to revise your will every few years or after a major life event. Even when you don’t foresee any changes, it’s good to look over it just in case.
In the bustle of daily life, it’s easy to forget when to update your will. So, it’s a good idea to schedule a reminder in advance. If you do not yet have a will, the legal team at Nguyen & Chen is ready to help you draft a document that secures your wishes and your assets.
Let us show you how to protect yourself and your family.