When Do I Need to Update My Will?
Let’s assume that you already know how important it is to have a valid will. If you’re not yet convinced, please read my other article, What is a Will and Do I Need One? But what happens when things change? A will isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. What follows are some common (and uncommon) reasons to update your will.
A list of common reasons to update your will:
You get married or remarried.
You get divorced.
You add a child to your life.
Your child becomes an adult or gets married.
You move to a different state or even a different country.
Your assets have shifted (e.g. you bought a different home, or sold your antique Chevrolet that you had promised to bestow to your grandson, or the value of a stock you held quintupled)
You want to change your executor (e.g. they have predeceased you).
A list of some less common reasons to update your will:
One of your primary beneficiaries has died (e.g. your spouse or a child).
One of your children loses the capacity to care for himself/herself in adulthood (e.g. becomes incapacitated due to a major medical event)
One of your beneficiaries develops creditor or substance abuse problems.
You are unmarried but want to provide for your significant other in your will as though you were married.
The tax laws (either state law or federal law) have changed significantly since your will was created.
Your net worth approaches the amount that is vulnerable to the federal estate tax ($11.58 million in 2020).
You come into a financial windfall.
Do I really need to update it? If any of the situations apply to you, then you probably already know what you should do. You want to provide for your beneficiaries in accordance with your intentions, and also avoid the chance of confusion, uncertainty, and tension to arise between your beneficiaries due to an out-of-date estate plan.
What professional(s) should I hire? To create an enforceable estate plan, or update your estate plan, and to minimize the taxes paid by your beneficiaries (thus diminishing the value of your hard-earned estate), and minimize probate costs, you probably want to employ the services of a qualified estate planning attorney in your area.