There are many reasons to update your will. Maybe it seems morbid to actively be thinking of when you should be making changes to your will, but the truth is, you're smart to do so.
For a will to be most effective, it should reflect the additions, modifications, and significant changes to your life. As you know, those changes can happen at any time, without warning.
Because it's always a good idea to plan ahead, here are five of the most common reasons you may want to update your will:
- You've moved. If you've moved to a new state or country, then you'll want to double-check the laws in your new location to see if your current will needs an update. States have varying laws when it comes to wills. Other estate planning rules, such as those for trusts, may be different too.
- Maybe you won the lottery! Or maybe you didn't, and you've just acquired significantly more assets. New houses, fancy new cars, expensive jewelry, and other big-ticket additions to your personal property should be reflected in your will.
- New children. If a new child has become part of your family, whether by birth or by adoption, then it may be time to make sure your will accurately reflects how you want everything dispersed after your death. For example, if you've bequeathed specific parts of your estate to other children whom you've named in your will, then you may want to do the same for your new child.
- Just married or divorced. If you've just tied the knot -- congratulations! After your honeymoon, you may want to update your will to include your spouse. On the other hand, if you're getting divorced, you'll probably want to revise your will to leave out your ex. Both situations present good reasons to consult an experienced wills lawyer near you.
- The passage of time. Think about how much can happen over the course of a few years, and how different your life may have been the last time you wrote or updated your will. As this short list suggests, it's wise to take a fresh look at your will every few years to account for changes in your life, from new people to new circumstances.
While updating your will to reflect all your life changes may seem daunting, it doesn't have to be. For example, you can sign up for a prepaid legal plan like those offered by LegalStreet; they include an attorney-drafted will and free annual updates. LegalStreet plans are also affordable, starting at less than $13 a month.
(Disclosure: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.)
- Legal How-To: Revising Your Will (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Checklist: Reasons to Update Your Will & Estate Planning Documents (FindLaw)
- Can You Write Your own Will? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- The FindLaw Guide to Writing a Will (FindLaw - Free Download)