You've already taken the step of creating a will, which sets you apart from a surprising number of adults throughout the country. If you only recently created your will and have yet to experience any major life changes, you probably have no great need to review it.
However, if your will is more than five years old, or if it's been more than five years since you reviewed it, then you should make time to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney and go over the document. Even if you do not experience any major life changes over a period of five years, estate planning laws may change at the state or federal level, necessitating some adjustment.
If you choose to leave your will alone without updating when some life change occurs, you may create contradictions and omissions that your family and beneficiaries must navigate after you pass away. Few things create conflicts throughout a family like a will that creates more questions than it answers.
Reasons to update a will
Depending on the nature of your estate and the complexity of your wishes, your will may involve many different instructions regarding various beneficiaries and assets. If one of these changes after you create your will, you should amend the will to reflect this change.
For instance, if you create a will when you and your spouse have your first child and never update the will to include two additional children as your family grows, your children may find themselves arguing over your property when you pass away. Updating your will to reflect your changing family could easily avoid this unfortunate result.
These significant changes may include
- your own marriage or divorce
- marriage or divorce of a beneficiary
- birth, adoption or addition of a beneficiary
- changes in your wishes about your estate or beneficiaries
- death of a beneficiary
- significant gains or losses in your estate
Help keep your wishes clear
Establishing your wishes clearly in a will and updating the document regularly is one of the best ways that you can care for your loved ones. When your time comes, your beneficiaries already face the difficult process of dealing with losing you. There is no reason to encourage frustrations and conflicts among your beneficiaries. Be sure to prioritize reviewing and updating your will to ensure that your loved ones understand the full scope of your wishes to distribute your estate and establish your legacy.