A will is not something that you draft, file and forget about. Life changes fast. When significant changes occur, you need to update your will to reflect them.
Exactly when this is needed will be different for everyone. That’s why many people simply do a yearly review, giving them confidence that their estate plan is always generally up to date. Another tactic, however, is to look for specific life events that mean an update is needed.
What life events should you look for?
If you want to take this second route, or perhaps combine the two, you need to know what common life events to look for so that you know when it’s time for that update. A few common examples are as follows:
● You gain significant assets, such as an inheritance from your parents.
● You sell assets that are directly noted in the will, such as a family cabin.
● You get divorced and your estate plan consistently names your ex as the person who should get your assets, make decisions on your behalf, etc.
● You get married when you were previously single, or you get married to a second partner after a divorce.
● A new child is born; this could be a child of your own or a grandchild.
● The law changes in a significant way that alters your plans. For instance, tax laws can change so that you want to reduce the value of your estate even further by putting assets into trusts.
● An heir or a spouse passes away. You may need to make updates to remove them from your estate plan or to reflect financial changes if you received assets from them.
● You file for bankruptcy or lose a significant amount of wealth due to debt.
● You acquire or sell a business.
● You sell your family home and move into a nursing home, changing your needs and your assets.
These are by no means all of the reasons to update your will, but they do give you an idea of the types of events to watch for. When these things happen, make sure you know what legal steps to take to get everything in order.