When to Update Your Will
Life changes on a dime. So, how can you ensure that your final wishes will be fulfilled when the time comes? One of the best ways to ensure this is to update your will. It prevents confusion among your family members or any potential future legal issues among them. Make sure your will updates reflect any significant life events.
What is an Update to a Will Called?
While updating your original will, such as adding or removing beneficiaries, you should include a codicil. With a codicil, you can update your will without having to rewrite your entire original will document.
Making a codicil is a practical choice if you need to make some minor changes. It serves as your will's legal "P.S." at the end of the document. The necessary steps to adding a codicil include:
● Writing out the changes you want to make to your current will
● Having two witnesses confirm your signature (just like you did with your original will)
● Keeping the document with your will
Your legal will document and the codicil will be read together after your passing. You can draft your codicil with a lawyer or create one yourself.
Reasons to Update Your Will
In some cases, creating a will isn't a one-time event, especially since life changes when you may least expect it. Therefore, we have outlined some common reasons for will update.
1. Marriage or Remarriage
Such a joyful event comes with a long to-do list for you, and a major item should be making or updating your will. Naturally, you should only do this if you want your spouse or stepchildren to receive a portion of your assets or to name them as the executor of your estate.
2. Divorce or Separation
In this situation, you can add a codicil removing your former partner as a beneficiary or executor. Likewise, a divorce could have some automatic repercussions on your will depending on your state's laws relating to community property, pensions, and custody (like removing your ex-spouse as your executor, among other things). However, updating your will is crucial to ensure that the document accurately reflects your wishes.
3. Changes in Assets
Likewise, updating your will won't simply pertain to changes in relationships. Ideally, you should review and update your will and all the essential estate planning documents whenever the value of your estate changes significantly. Additionally, you should consider whether any estate planning considerations would be affected by the purchase or sale of real estate or other high-value assets. If so, you'll need to add the most up-to-date information that reflects any changes to any monetary amounts that beneficiaries stand to gain.
4. Moving to Another State
Once again, since each state's estate laws vary somewhat, you might need to consult with an attorney in the state of your new residence to ensure your will complies with those regulations if you relocate.
5. A Person Named in the Will Has Died
Unfortunately, people will pass away, and your will would need to be changed if the deceased person was named as a beneficiary, executor, or guardian.
On the other hand, you can include alternate beneficiaries, guardians, and executors when creating your original will. This will serve as a safety net by preventing the need to revise your will right away in the event of a death.
6. Haven't Checked for The Last 5 Years
Also, most legal experts advise reviewing your will every three to five years. During this period, people frequently go through big changes in their lives. This is only a suggestion, though. You can also review it annually when you file your taxes. The ideal strategy is to revise your will only if your circumstances directly affect its outcome.
7. Your Child Turns 18
Your children become legal adults when they turn 18 years old. It also means that you need to alter your will. Therefore, you'll go from designating guardians who would look after your children to naming them as full-fledged beneficiaries.
Updating Your Will? Get Professional Help
Although we've looked at situations that call for updating your will, getting professional guidance will save you from leaving out important details or noncompliance with your state's probate laws. A legal document assistant (LDA) is a lost-cost alternative to a lawyer or attorney. Although LDAs cannot give legal advice, they can provide you with articles that relate to your particular situation. If in doubt, or the question is complex, consult an attorney. An LDA has the expertise to assist you in preparing a legal will document. Plus, an LDA can assist you in preparing a codicil.
If you are looking for a Legal Document Assistant, contact Monday Morning Trust. We are a full-service LDA providing cost-effective Trust and Will legal assistance services. Contact us for high-quality Living Trusts and Will documents at a great price.