Once you create a will or any other end-of-life document, you may think you are set until your passing. However, your circumstances and wishes often change over the years, and your will needs to reflect your current situation.
Every couple of years, you should review your will to ensure it is still applicable. You should also update it whenever you experience life changes in any of these areas.
Because a will addresses asset distribution, your will should change every time your finances do. Have you acquired additional property? Have you lost an investment? Has your income increased or decreased? Any major shift, positive or negative, is reason for an update.
Tax regulations regarding estates constantly change. Ask your lawyer to inform you whenever state or federal government alter tax laws so your family does not have to pay fees once your will goes into effect. Also, factor in taxes and other costs as you divide your assets so your beneficiaries do not lose some of their inheritance.
Wills are a common source of family contention. Ensuring your will reflects your current relationships can minimize conflict. Examples of relationship changes include:
- A marriage or divorce for you or a beneficiary
- The death, birth or adoption of a beneficiary
- Disinheritance of a beneficiary
You may want to reaffirm your choice in executor for your estate as well to ensure you still trust the person and he or she is still willing to fulfill that role. You can also review any charities included in your will to check that you still believe in those causes and they deserve your financial support.
Perhaps you were in good health and only made a standard will but now face health challenges. This circumstance may cause you to rethink your asset distribution and add provisions to your estate plans, such as advance health directives. These include living wills and medical durable power of attorney, allowing appointed persons to represent you in health care treatments and end-of-life decisions.