Many of us make a will at some point in our adult lives and then always mean to get around to updating it, but never do. It is better to have some form of a valid will than no will at all. But simply leaving a will in a safe or safety deposit box for years can lead to serious complications for your loved ones and beneficiaries when it comes time to disperse your estate.
You will reflects your wishes, but must also reflect your estate and your beneficiaries. If your estate changes significantly after you create your will, or if your beneficiaries change, you may leave your estate open to legal challenges. It is always wise to open up your will and read it over every four or five years at least, to make sure that your rights and preferences remain protected.
Creating a strong will offers a lot of peace of mind, but only if you keep the will up-to-date. If you procrastinate on reviewing and updating it, you may undo a lot of your own hard work and make things more difficult for the ones you love after you are gone.
Events that may impact your will
Several kinds of life events can impact your will, and any time that you experience one or more of them, you should take a careful look at your will to make sure it is still valid and effective.
Most important are usually the individuals and organizations that people choose as beneficiaries. Any time that you gain or lose a family member or some other beneficiary relationship, it is time to review your will. This may occur through:
- Your own marriage, divorce or remarriage
- Birth, adoption or death of a beneficiary
- Marriage, divorce or remarriage of a beneficiary
- Minor dependent reaching legal adulthood
Your estate may also change greatly over your lifetime, and the more specific and accurate your will is about your estate, the easier it is to distribute your property according to your wishes. Always make sure to review your will any time that you gain or lose significant assets.
Changes in the law
Even if you don’t experience any significant life events over four or five years, state and federal laws that affect estate planning may change. If you don’t update your will along with the law, you may miss out on protections and advantages, so it is wise to review your will periodically.
Making the most of estate planning requires some occasional time and due diligence, but it is worth the effort. Keep your wishes secure and you rights protected with a strong will and estate plan, and don’t procrastinate on updating when life brings major changes.