It is not enough to be among the roughly 30% of Americans who have a will or estate plan in place. For the courts to consider your will or estate plan appropriate or even valid, it must align with your current familial situation and goals. For it to do this, you must update your will or estate plan frequently.
How often you need to update your estate plan depends largely on personal life circumstances. Kiplinger explores four life changes that may warrant a revisitation of your will.
The birth of a child
The birth of a child is typically the life event that most commonly triggers the creation of a will. Whether this is your first will or a revision, take steps to ensure your child has a comfortable, financially secure future should something happen to you. Name an appropriate guardian, designated a trustee and start designating assets.
Divorce is imminent
Whether you are thinking about divorce or are in the midst of it — or even if the process is complete — it would be in your best interest to change your will to ensure your former spouse does not have continued rights to your property. While many states will invalidate disruptive provisions in old wills, you can save your beneficiaries time and money by making the necessary changes ahead of time.
Your beneficiaries become less than deserving
Certain life circumstances, such as drug abuse or spending problems, may render your chosen beneficiaries inadequate. In this case, you may want to designate a third party to manage your assets and distribute funds only under agreed-upon circumstances.
Your state passes new legislation
Every few years, the federal and state governments pass legislation that completely derails residents’ estate plans. For instance, laws pertaining to family business succession planning, inherited IRAs and same-sex marriage can significantly affect your estate plan.
There are dozens of life circumstances that can trigger the need for a change to your estate plan. Consult with a lawyer to see when and if you need to update your will.