If you have written a will, you shouldn’t assume that you won’t need to do any more estate planning. Wills are not set in stone – you can update your will throughout your life. Depending on your stage in life, you may have significant personal, familial, and financial changes ahead of you that should motivate you to review and update your will. But when or how often do you need to review or update the provisions of your will?
How Often Do You Need to Review Your Will?
As a rule of thumb, you should probably review your will every couple of years to ensure that it still reflects your current wishes. For example, you may have had a falling out with a family member in the last few years and no longer wish to include them in your will. With electronic calendars, you can set reminders for yourself every few years to read over your will and to check in with your attorney to see if your will needs to be updated. In addition to regular reviews, you should also go over your will after major life events that change the structure or composition of your family or that substantially change your income or wealth.
When Should You Update Your Will?
In addition to updating your will whenever you feel it no longer reflects your current wishes for how your estate should be managed following your death, certain events should also motivate you to update your will. These events include:
- You have a new child, grandchild, etc.
- You get married
- You get divorced
- Your child gets married
- Your spouse passes away
- You start or shut down a business
- You experience a financial windfall, such as from an inheritance or winning the lottery
- You have changed jobs, and/or your income has substantially increased
- You have lost your job, or you have experienced other financial setbacks
- You move to a new state or country since different laws will apply to your will and can affect the validity of your will or how it is enforced
- You purchase property in another country
- State probate laws or state or federal tax laws change
- Your health deteriorates, or you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, as you may want to make changes while you are still alive and have the testamentary capacity to do so
- You have a beneficiary who no longer requires substantial financial assistance
- You have a beneficiary who has developed mental health, substance abuse, or financial problems
- Any named executors, beneficiaries, or nominated guardians for your minor children pass away
Finally, you may need to write a new will if you cannot locate your current will. However, if you choose to write a new will to replace a lost one, you should include language expressly invalidating all prior wills.
Why Do You Need to Update Your Will?
In addition to the life changes mentioned above, you may need to update your will for various other reasons, such as:
- You have had a personal falling out with a named beneficiary in your will
- You have new assets that you want to specifically bequeath (such as real estate, antique furniture, art, or jewelry), or you have new assets that are not disposed of in your will
- You want or need to reallocate your estate among your beneficiaries, or you want to leave money to charity
- You want to take advantage of changes to tax laws
Contact Us for Help
If you are looking to review and update your will, reach out to Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP, for an initial consultation. You’ll get to speak to a Council Bluffs, IA, estate planning lawyer to get the experienced legal advice you need. Call us at 712-309-3738 today.