Updating Your Will After Major Life Changes

Updating Your Will After Major Life Changes

Many people feel a sense of relief after they create a will and other estate plans with their attorney. Investing the time and resources into estate planning is a task people tend to put off, so it is very rewarding to reach what seems to be the finish line.

However, the finish line is a mirage when it comes to estate planning. You never quite get there. That’s because life keeps moving forward, and your plans need to be reviewed and adjusted periodically to ensure that they still meet your needs and will operate the way you intend.

While regular reviews of your will and other estate plans are an excellent idea, many people are not disciplined enough to stick to a regular update schedule. At the very least, however, it is important to update your will when certain life changes occur. Here are some examples of situations that may require you to change your will.

Marriage or Divorce

Spouses figure prominently in estate plans. So if you get married, you probably want to include your spouse in your will. By the same token, if you get divorced, you would probably rather designate a child, sibling, or other loved one as the beneficiary of your property and your personal representative in charge of your estate.

Remember that marriage or divorce of your children or other family members can also alter your priorities. You may need to update your will to ensure that a former in-law doesn’t receive heirloom jewelry or that a new spouse isn’t left out of your plans.

Birth or Adoption

A new member of the family should be included in your estate plans, including your will. Even if you plan to leave everything to your spouse, your will includes alternate beneficiaries designated to receive property if your spouse predeceases you, and children and grandchildren may be listed in that capacity. Leaving someone out could lead to confusion, anger, broken hearts, and broken relationships among family. You need to update your will to include loved ones added through birth or adoption.

Death of Someone Included in Your Will

If someone mentioned in your will as a beneficiary, personal representative, guardian, or conservator passes away, it is a good idea to change your will as soon as possible to designate a new person to fill the role.

Move to a New Jurisdiction

If you have moved to a new state, or even a new county, it is a good idea to update your will. Probate is handled at the county level, and counties sometimes have different requirements that can affect administration of your will. Taking steps to notarize the signatures of witnesses, for instance, or include specific language in your will could make the probate process easier for loved ones in the future.

Each state sets their own laws about inheritance and requirements for estate planning documents, so documents you executed in another state may not operate to the full effect you’d intended. A move is a very good time to schedule an update of your estate plans, including your will.

Change in Assets, Including a Business

If you have acquired or sold assets, your will may need to be adjusted to ensure that your plans for property distribution still match your goals. In particular, if you own a business, it is important to ensure that your plans cover critical details of business succession.

Illness of You or Another Key Player

The diagnosis of an illness can change your priorities and timeline for executing plans. In addition to considering whether changes in your own health have impacted your goals and plans, it is important to consider the health of others who play a role in your will. Is the person you named as your personal representative still willing and able to perform the tasks involved in administering an estate? Is the person you nominated as guardian for your children still someone you’d want serving in that role? Do you feel the need to cut off support to someone you had designated as a beneficiary? It is important to make changes promptly before it’s too late.

Change in Priorities

If your loved ones are in a secure financial position, you may decide that you want to expand your legacy. You may want to support one or more charitable causes through your will or establish a testamentary trust to further an important goal.

Inhulsen Law Can Keep Your Will and Other Documents Up-to-Date

When a life change occurs, you need to adapt, but the process can be much more simple than the process of creating plans from scratch. At Inhulsen Law, we can review your goals, incorporate updated provisions, and prepare new documents to fit the updated reality. Estate planning is an ongoing process, and we are ready to assist at every step of the way. Just call 616) 747-0000 or contact us online to schedule an appointment to discuss the ways we can assist. 

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