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Updating Your Will: What You Need to Know

You should review your Will and estate planning documents periodically to determine whether or not you need to make changes or if recent events would have an impact on your estate plan. This is important not only because it can affect how you direct your finances now (i.e. do you sell your house and downsize or leave it for your son?), but also because it makes an impact on your family and friends once you are gone and can help them avoid stress and arguments because you have everything organized and planned.

You may think that you do not need a will, that maybe your situation is such that everything will be taken care of quickly and easily upon your death. Unfortunately many people who think this and never create a will leave their families with stressful, drawn-out periods of trying to gather those benefits. A will not only tells how your funds should be dispersed but can also:

  • Declare who will have guardianship of your child(ren)
  • Appoint someone you know rather than a stranger to be in charge of your estate so that your property and assets are properly taken care of
  • Manage your property for your children if they are minors since they do not have full rights to property or the ability to sign contracts
  • Be sure that if you designate items to go to specific people that it happens (i.e. if you want to pass down your grandmother’s pearl necklace to your granddaughter)

If you have property, money, a job, and/or loved ones, then it is important to set up your will and then review it periodically.

If you have had any of these events/changes since the last time you looked at your Will or estate plan, then be sure to make some time with your spouse or schedule time with your estate planner to sit down and look at them today:

  • You have gone through a divorce or separation
  • There has been a death of a spouse, child or beneficiary
  • You have recently married
  • You have had or adopted a child
  • Your child has recently been married or divorced or has had a child of their own
  • You or your spouse have suffered a serious illness or have been diagnosed with a disease
  • A beneficiary has exhibited serious financial irresponsibility, has lost contact, or has changed their relationship with you
  • You have either had a significant increase or decrease in the size of your estate
  • You have had a change in business interests or ownership
  • You have had any change in your life insurance
  • You have acquired property in other states
  • There have been changes in tax or property laws
  • If your executor, guardian, or trustee has died or become unable to act in that role
  • If you have moved to another state or have bought a different home

estate planningIt is wise to have a will in place should anything happen to you as it will save your family much stress, time, and money. The same is true for having a plan for your estate, making sure that your beneficiaries are listed on every account you have (i.e. IRA, 401(k), life insurance, etc.). It is wise to put all of your information together in one place and let a trusted person know how to access that information in the event of your death. Do not leave it laying out on your kitchen counter. Revisiting your information and plans often will ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death and that your family will be taken care of. This is an incredible gift that you can prepare to show that you love and care for them.

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