Written by Jonathan Breeden
Your will is a very important document. It lays out your final wishes, including how your personal property, real estate, and other assets should be divided among your family members, friends, and charitable organizations. The document is of such importance that it needs to be updated over the years based on life changes and your evolving priorities. What you wanted at 30 years when you drew up your first will probably won’t be the same as what you want – or what you are leaving behind – when you turn 65. At Breeden Law Office, we recommend you update your will at least after major life events and when you obtain valuable assets.
There are a number of occasions after which you should update your will, including:
After you are newly married, you and your spouse should each consider updating your wills. If one or both of you have not yet drafted a will, now is the time to do so. This is especially important if you wish for certain assets to go to someone other than your spouse.
Each time you welcome a new child, whether by birth or through adoption, you should review your will. Depending on how it is drafted, you may not need to revise it. For example, if you provide for all of your children to receive a certain amount of money or percentage of your estate, then this would apply to your newborn. However, if specifically name your children who were alive when you last wrote or revised your will, then you should revise your will to include the new baby.
If you and your spouse divorce, it is important to revise your will and reconsider your overall estate plan. This is particularly important if you and your spouse had a joint will. You should each create your own individual will after the divorce is final.
If you are going through a lengthy, contentious divorce, discuss updating your will during your separation with an experienced attorney.
If your spouse, child, or anyone else you named in your will passes away, consider whether you need to revise your will. If that individual was to inherit specific assets, you should decide who will receive these assets now. You can give them to another family member. Or, if your deceased loved one left behind children, you may wish for those assets to pass to them.
When you purchase a new property, vehicles, art, jewelry, or other assets that are highly valuable, you should reflect this in your will. You should revise the document to include how that asset should be addressed in the event of your passing, whether it should be sold, and the proceeds divided amongst your family, or whether it should pass to a specific individual.
A lot can happen throughout your life, including financial ups and downs. If you go through a major financial shift, such that you have more or less to provide for your family, you should review your will.
If you have a valuable estate to leave to family and friends, you should consider the tax implications of your gifts. When the tax code changes, you need to review your will and how your beneficiaries’ tax liabilities may be impacted by their inheritance.
It is possible for your life to move along for several years without any of these major changes happening. You may be married or divorced, you may be finished growing your family, and you may maintain a steady income. That does not mean you should ignore your will. Every few years, you should review the document to make sure it encompasses your wishes.
If you realize your current will is incomplete or does not reflect your wishes, contact estate planning lawyer Jonathan Breeden about revising your will. To schedule an appointment at Breeden Law Office, contact us today at (919) 661-4970, or reach out through the online form.