When your will isn’t updated and reviewed at these critical points in time, there’s a potential that your loved ones will become emotionally divided, and they may also be left with the emotional and financial burden of unnecessary legal proceedings and fees.
It can be difficult to identify what these critical points in time are. That’s why we’ve created a list of 15 reasons you should put updating or creating your will at the top of your to-do list.
1. You haven’t created a will.
If you haven’t created a will yet, then you should make creating one a top priority. With a will, you can decide who will receive your property and assets after your death. You can choose who will receive custody of your children and pets as well as set aside funds for your children and grandchildren. You can create a testamentary trust and choose your executor. You can also plan for your funeral, service, burial, cremation, or other personal matters. You can amend or revoke your will.
2. You haven’t checked your will in the last 3 to 5 years.
Your will should be reviewed and revised every 3 to 5 years. Within this time frame a lot of things can change including marriages and long-term relationships, state laws, acquisitions or dispositions of funds and assets, the growth of families, health, etc. Each of these changes create concerns for the execution of your will, and if they aren’t addressed regularly, your will may be ineffective and create more difficulty rather than ease for your loved ones following your passing.
3. There may be new laws in your state.
The most important among these are changes in inheritance tax laws and laws concerning same-sex marriages.
4. The value of your estate has recently increased or decreased.
Any significant increase or decrease in the value of your estate is a reason to update your will. You may need to redistribute the estate to your loved ones.
5. You haven’t recently discussed your assets with your attorney.
Discussing your assets with your attorney regularly helps to avoid inheritance taxes.
6. You’ve recently acquired a significant asset (Real estate, business, estate).
If you’ve recently acquired new assets, of any kind, then you should update your will. For example, if you purchased real estate as an income property, a vacation home, or a fixer upper, you should address what needs to happen with this asset in the event of your passing.
Other important assets include businesses and estates.
7. You are recently married or are in a committed long-term relationship.
After marriage, you should update your will to reflect this change. Meeting with an attorney and discussing how your states’ marriage laws affect your will is strongly suggested.
Perhaps you aren’t married, but you are in a long-term relationship. If in the event of your passing you would like your partner to be a beneficiary, you have to dictate this in a will. Updating your will helps to ensure that your partner receives the assets you want them to receive.
8. You are recently divorced or are separated from your spouse.
If you’re divorced or separated from your spouse, you should make changes to your will as soon as possible. They may still be entitled to your assets, and you’ll want to revise your will to reflect your new arrangements.
9. New people should be named in your will (children, grandchildren, etc.)
If you are a new or expectant parent or grandparent (congratulations!) you should update your will to reflect these changes. You may need to redistribute assets among beneficiaries, or negotiate how these new beneficiaries can receive and use the assets they inherit from you.
Perhaps there’s another person who you would like to become a beneficiary. You should meet with an attorney to discuss how to include them in your will as well.
10. Children or grandchildren have reached the age of 18.
Any beneficiary of your will who was previously under the age of 18, but who has recently entered adulthood needs to be addressed at this time. The ways in which they had previously inherited your will may have changed since you last updated your will, and you will want to make changes to ensure that they can remain a recipient. It’s important that you take time to address creating or revising trusts for these members of your family.
11. Poor health of yourself or poor health of beneficiaries.
If you or a beneficiary are in poor health, then you should revise your will. You may need to determine with an attorney how these health concerns could affect your beneficiaries inheritance, and what changes may need to be made to your will and what steps are available to you to preserve what you have worked throughout your life to gather for your family.
12. You need to change the executor of your will.
There are many reasons you may need to change the executor of your will. Perhaps the previous executor has passed away, you’ve become divorced or separated, or you have determined that there is a more reputable executor. Either way, you will want to make this change as soon as possible.
13. Loss of beneficiaries.
In the event that a beneficiary has passed away or you’ve become otherwise detached, you should revise your will. Perhaps they were the parent of another beneficiary, or maybe they were receiving a portion of one of your assets. These and other concerns should be addressed as soon as possible.
14. You’ve recently started a gifting program.
When you start making gifts to family members, you should address how this affects your existing beneficiaries. Do you need to redistribute your assets in the event that certain beneficiaries are now left with less than others? Does your will still do what it was intended to do? These are all questions and concerns that you should go over with an attorney.
15. You are nearing the age of 70 and a half, or you have surpassed this age.
Prior to reaching 70 and a half years of age, you need to review and update existing estate plans if you have an IRA, 401(k), or other qualified plan that requires you to begin to take distributions once you reach 70 and a half years of age. The beneficiary that you designate will have an irrevocable impact on the required distributions that you will want to address with your attorney.
If you’re thinking that you may need to update your will, you can contact The Prue Law Group, P.C. at (860) 423-9231 to make an appointment with our team at either of our offices in Brooklyn or Willimantic, CT.