Written by Jonathan Breeden
Some estate plans stand the test of time. But not everyone is as protected as they think they are. A will dictates how your property will be divided after you pass away, but life has a way of changing. It is very common for people to believe that their will is sufficient or they put off updating their will, thinking there is plenty of time to do so. Unfortunately, inadequate estate planning documents usually only become known when it’s too late.
There are some times in your life when updating your will makes sense. By working with a will attorney, you can identify when updating your will is necessary, so you are protected and your estate is kept out of probate.
With over 20 years experience and local offices in Raleigh, Garner, Angier, and Smithfield, NC family attorney Jonathan Breeden has helped countless individuals successfully draft and update their estate plans.
If you already have a will, you’ve done the right thing for your family’s future. But don’t think you can just lock up your will and forget about it.
Wills generally need to be updated periodically or after major life events. That doesn’t mean you need an annual review of your estate; rather, review and revise your will when certain changes occur.
Some events that can prompt a need for revision of your will include:
Getting married may prompt you to make changes to your will. There are many assets that your spouse will automatically inherit if you pass away first, but not everything works that way. Talk to your estate lawyer about the updates you need to make after you get married.
Getting a divorce does not automatically remove your former spouse from your will. If you don’t address the issue, your assets may go to them, instead of your children or other loved ones in your life.
You may expect your child’s other parent will still be around to care for them when you’re gone. But what if that’s not the case?
A will does more than just bequeath a monetary inheritance – it allows you to determine who will take care of your children if you and their other parent are no longer living. Something so important should not be left up to the probate court to decide.
Your children may still be beneficiaries in your will, but the way you’ve dictated how they will receive their inheritance could change. For example, maybe you decided they shouldn’t get everything at once, so you set them up to receive a portion by age 20, another portion at age 30, and the third at age 40. Now that they are adults, you may feel differently about this split.
The loss of a loved one who has been named as one of your beneficiaries could cause a shift in your estate. You may want to revisit your will and do some recalculations.
Maybe your portfolio has suddenly increased, or a family member has gifted you with a sizable amount of assets. Ensure that everything is properly distributed by adding it to your estate.
Estate tax laws can have a big impact on your will. Among other things, it may increase or decrease the size of the estate tax exemption. Changes in state and federal laws can help or hurt your estate, so be sure to keep up on them and act accordingly.
If you haven’t yet created a will, or it’s been a while, call an attorney for help. At Breeden Law Office, attorney Jonathan Breeden has assisted many residents in North Carolina with planning and updating their estates.