Updating Your Will
Four Reasons Why You Should Update Your Will
It may be difficult to think about what will happen to the people in your life after you pass, but regardless of the emotional strain that this may cause, updating your will is an important step that can be taken today to prepare for your family’s future. A wise choice is to draw up a will under your estate planning attorney’s supervision as early as you can. After all, in case you experience a major and unexpected health crisis, your spouse and your children should not have to worry about what to do with your assets.
Despite common perception, a will does not have to be a fixed, unalterable document. Certain life events may prompt you to consider updating sections of your will. If the mood strikes you, you may even wish to scrap your previous version and create a new draft. Your will is yours to write and change, and with an estate planning attorney’s guidance, you can ensure that it best reflects your wishes. If any of the following life, legal, and financial events happens to occur, updating your will may be in your best interest. You ought to revise your will if…
1. …Your Family Grows in Size.
Families are hardly static, and an addition to your family is a valid reason to add to your will as well. Adopting a child, the birth of a child or grandchild, and even the adoption of a pet all bear with them additional responsibilities that should be reflected in writing. Becoming married creates a whole new set of gift, Medicaid, and estate tax planning opportunities.
2. …Your Family Shrinks in Size.
Once your children reach the age of 18, they become legal adults. Regardless of whether they are still living with you at that point, their status in the eyes of the law grants them new rights, and your will can capitalize on this change. If you and your spouse become divorced, you must remove her or him as a beneficiary and fiduciary, and your IRA and 401(k) will need to be updated as well. Intrafamily strife can also arise, and if need be, you will always be within your rights to disinherit a child—though you should consider adding a no-contest clause, also known as an in terrorem clause, in that case.
3. …A Beneficiary or Fiduciary Goes Through a Life Transition.
Even the life events of people outside your immediate family can warrant an update to your will. The marriage or divorce of a beneficiary or fiduciary will mean that your will is going to suddenly contain one too many or one too few individuals. In addition, if a beneficiary or fiduciary becomes disabled, enrolls in Medicaid, or begins to receive Social Security, you will have to add a Supplemental Needs Trust to ensure that he or she will maintain eligibility for government benefits.
4. …Your Financial or Geographical Circumstances Change.
A reform in estate, gift, or income tax laws may affect the amount of money that you bequeath to your beneficiaries, so regular consultations with an attorney about changes to financial regulations can preserve the inheritance you intend to include in your will. Related reasons to consider updating your will include the purchase or sale of real estate or a business, relocation to another state, the desire to add a charity as a beneficiary, and lending money to a relative.
Your will serves as your final words to those in your life, and the document will ensure that your last wishes are honored. Instead of putting off the matter, consulting with our estate planning attorneys in Rochester NY like Robert Friedman to help get your affairs in order, sparing your loved ones additional stress in the years to come.