If you already have a last will and testament, congratulations — you’ve taken an important step toward protecting yourself and your loved ones, one that far too many adults never take. However, even those with wills may leave their loved ones and beneficiaries with confusing instructions or unclear wishes without reviewing and amending the document from time to time.
A number of significant life events may indicate that it is time to review and possibly update your will. In some cases, this kind of regular maintenance merely makes the process of honoring your wishes simple and straightforward for your loved ones when you pass away. This alone is well worth the effort. Dealing with the passing of a loved one is often difficult enough without complications in a will.
However, in some instances, updating your will regularly saves your loved ones from major issues, both interpersonally and legally. If, for instance, you remarry after a divorce and never amend your will to include your new spouse or exclude your former spouse, one or the other may challenge your will and complicate matters. Even if these claims ultimately get thrown out by a court, they can incur serious legal fees and hold up the distribution of your estate to your beneficiaries.
When to review and update your will
It is always wise to review your will with an attorney about every five years. An attorney can help you amend any aspect of the will you wish to change, or update the will to reflect important changes in your life. The attorney can also inform you of changes in federal and state laws that may affect the terms of the will and help you address them properly.
A number of life events may also necessitate an update to your will. These include:
- New marriages or divorces within the family
- Death of a named beneficiary
- Birth or adoption of a new named beneficiary
- Gain or loss of significant assets in your estate
- Any changes in your wishes
It is always wise to address these matters in your will as soon as you recognize them. If you put off updating the will, life may distract you until it is too late.
Get the help you need
While any will is usually better than no will at all, a faulty will is an unnecessary burden for your loved ones to carry. Updating your will regularly is consistent with your desire to care for the ones you love. Be sure to seek out all the help you need to update your will and keep your rights and wishes protected.