Estate plans include a variety of legal documents and plans that are put together to alleviate the impact of your death on your loved ones. At the center of an estate plan is a valid and legal Will that details the distribution of your assets and property.
But as you grow older and your life changes, it’s important that your Will addresses these issues. The situations that may dictate a review of your Will and possible changes are:
- Marriage/Divorce: Since spouses have a significant legal bearing on the distribution of an estate, it is important to update a will if there is a marriage, separation or divorce.
- Children: Wills are used to name the guardians of minor children. Obviously the birth of a child will mean updating a will to name a guardian. But when children reach the age of 18, their legal status also changes, meaning it’s best to review the will at this time.
- Moves: For a Will to be valid, it must comply with the laws of the State. If you move to another state, it’s best to have your Will reviewed by an attorney in the state of residence to assure it is valid legal and “self proving” in your new location.
- Financial and business changes. Estate plans and Wills deal with finances., Significant changes to personal and professional finances as well as selling important assets or property require and update or review of your Will.
- Changes to tax and estate laws: As tax laws change, particularly with the recent annual changes to the federal estate tax, your Will should be reviewed to ensure that your decisions comply with the tax law changes.
- Change of heart: If you’d like to change a beneficiary, such as adding a charity, changing the recipients of assets, or putting restrictions on inheritances, it’s time to review and change the Will.
It’s important to remember that the will is a living document, it should be updated to reflect life’s changes. Don’t forget that one of life’s changes is our age. Wills should be reviewed at least every five years even if not prompted by another event. Ideally, an annual review will ensure that your Will is always up-to-date.