Establishing your estate plan is a significant step in securing your legacy. However, once you have set up your documents, you still need to take time to review them. It is a good idea to do this annually, as many life events can provide reasons to update your will.
Familial or Relationship Changes
You Become a Parent
The birth of a first child often prompts people to get their legal documents in order. Updating your will is vital for designating a guardian for your child, and the trustee for any trusts created. The will should also make provisions for any future children.
You Are Considering Divorce
You must consider the timing of your will signing if you are thinking about getting divorced. It is best to update your will before filing. You may prefer that someone other than your spouse inherit your assets.
In most states, your divorce automatically negates your ex-spouse as a recipient of your estate. However, even if your divorce is already final, you need to update your will as soon as possible. Doing so will allow you to designate your preferred executor, beneficiaries, etc.
Your Child’s Marital Status Changes
You may be concerned with your child’s spouse receiving a portion of the inheritance from your estate. In order to prohibit this, you can update your will. This is an especially good idea if your child does not sign a premarital agreement.
You Have a Falling Out with Loved Ones
Unfortunately, there are times when conflict arises with family members and friends. If they are named executors, beneficiaries, have power of attorney, etc, it is essential to update your documents. This will allow you to remove them and select new individuals in their place.
Changes with Named Executors or Beneficiaries
Your Beneficiaries Require a Third Party to Manage Their Assets
Sometimes our loved ones develop poor habits that make them untrustworthy with handling their inheritance. Suppose one of your beneficiaries has issues with abuse of drugs, creditor problems, etc. In that case, you will want to designate a trust and trustee for them. The trustee is then responsible for distributing funds to your beneficiary when the time is right.
The Individuals Named Pass Away
Sometimes the individuals named in estate planning documents pass away before the testator, or person who makes a will. It is crucial to assess whether your documents make provision for this potential situation. If not, you will want to establish new documents.
Your Child Becomes an Adult
Once your child becomes an adult, many of the instructions you outlined in your documents may no longer be necessary. They no longer need to be cared for as a minor and may even be responsible enough to handle your estate. If you wish to name them as executor, for example, it is time to update your will.
Changes in Your Financial Situation
Your Assets Change
If your net worth has increased, it is important to look at your will to determine if any changes are required. Your attorney may discuss updating beneficiary designations or ensure you have proper tax planning in place.
Relocation or Acquisition of Assets Overseas
If you acquire assets in another country or even relocate overseas, you should consider establishing a second will.
Changes with Charitable Donations
As with changes in assets, you will need to update your will if you have changes to your designated charitable donations. Consult an attorney if you would like to change the amount or charity to whom you wish to donate.
If your documents become lost or damaged, it is essential to replace them as soon as possible. Photocopies of wills are often not accepted as valid for administration. Make sure that your new will states that its execution negates any wills previously created.
Moving to another state
If you are moving to a different state, you should meet with an attorney in your new location. They will help you determine whether or not your current will is still valid, as there can be many state law variations.
Changes to Tax Laws and New Legislation
Assets distributed via your will may be subject to federal estate taxes if the value is high enough. It is wise to check in with your attorney every few years. They will be able to update you on any changes or laws passed that may affect your estate plan.