Your Last Will and Testament is your only chance to decide what happens to your estate assets upon your death. It is the cornerstone of your estate plan -- the document from which all other estate planning tools flow. Once you have taken the time and effort to create your Will, don't make the mistake of failing to update it when necessary. Some reasons that a Will needs to be updated are obvious; however, consider the following, not so obvious, reasons as well when deciding if it's time to take another look at your Will.
People think to update a Will when a parent, spouse or child dies, but
the death of the person named as executor or guardian of your minor
children can also prompt a review of your Will. The death of a business
partner or even an in-law may also warrant a Will update.
or Divorce: Clearly, your own marriage or divorce calls for a revision
of your Will; however, other marriages or divorces may also necessitate a
change. The marriage or divorce of a parent, child or guardian, for
example, can call for a review of your Will.
Although it is easy to rely on a generic term, such as "issue", to
cover all of your children or grandchildren, it may be preferable to
name each beneficiary by name in your Will to avoid any possible future
confusion. As such, take the time to update your Will when there is a
birth in the family.
Reaches the Age of Majority: Minors cannot inherit directly in your
Will. As such, you likely named a trustee for any minor children when
you made your Will. If a child has reached the age of majority, you will
need to remove the trustee and provide for the direct transfer of those
assets to the beneficiary in your Will.
in Assets: Although you may have a general provision in your Will for
any asset not specifically named, if you acquire an asset worth a
significant amount of money, or sell one, you may need to update your
Will to address that asset for clarification.
in Location: In the confusion of a move, people typically don't think
of how residency can affect a Will. State laws, however, can directly
impact provisions in your Will, warranting a review and possible
in State or Federal Laws: Laws change on a regular basis. Federal tax
laws, for example, seem to continuously change. A significant change in
either a state or federal law can result in the need to make a
corresponding change to your Will.
Reach the Age of Required Distributions: IRAs and 401(k)s typically
require you to start taking distributions around the age of retirement.
If you have significant funds in one of these accounts, the required
distributions can change your asset structure enough to warrant a Will
in Guardian: This is a big, yet often forgotten, reason to update your
Will. Regardless of the reason why you wish to change the named guardian
for your minor children, if you wish to do so you must make it official
by revising your Will.
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