The will you draft determines who inherits property from your estate and who will care for the people that currently depend on you, such as your minor children or your ailing parents. Many responsible adults create wills when they have people who require financial or practical support in their lives or when they acquire valuable personal resources.
Creating a will is a good step, but it is insufficient to fully protect you. You also need to keep the documents updated to ensure that they truly reflect your wishes and your current needs. When will it be necessary for you to go back over your will and other estate planning documents and potentially update them?
- When your marital status changes
Your spouse has a very special legal relationship with you. They are the only person other than those you specifically designate in legal documents who can have access to medical information about you or make choices about your care. They also have a statutory right of inheritance from your estate.
When you get married or initiate divorce proceedings, you will need to update your will and other estate planning documents, as well as your beneficiary designations with your insurance provider.
- When you have children or grandchildren
New family members will inevitably mean new beneficiaries. It is common practice for people to include each inheriting family member by name, so you will need to make frequent revisions as your family continues to grow.
The inverse is also true. In a tragic scenario where someone you expected to survive you dies first, you will need to revise your estate planning documents to eliminate them as a beneficiary.
- When your property holdings change
Did you recently sell the home where you lived for years and buy a retirement condo? Have you finally started your own small business?
When you have significant personal resources that you recently acquired or when you no longer own resources you previously addressed by name in your estate plan, you will need to revise your documents.
Out-of-date documents will be subject to more scrutiny and may potentially be at risk of the courts not upholding them because they include inaccurate information. Knowing when to update your existing will for your protection and the well-being of those that depend on you will maximize the benefits you derive from having a will in place.