Legal Tidbit: Estate Planning – Wills should change as your life changes

Your life changes and so should your will. Many people make the mistake of creating their will once and never thinking about it again. This can leave your loved ones with a lot of heartache and headache upon your death, should important changes not be made.

There are many events that should trigger a change in your will. For example,

If anything happens to your spouse – due to death or divorce – you’ll need an update. If you get divorced you’ll likely want to remove your ex-spouse as a beneficiary. You might also have to set up (or change) trusts for your children so that anything they get will be handled the way it should be.
In the case that your spouse passes away, you’ll need to not only execute their will, but create a new living will for yourself. This new will needs to line out how your estate should be handled. You’ll also need it to provide instructions in the case that you become permanently incapacitated.
You’ll need to consider changing your will should you remarry. When this happens, there’s a chance that both parties may have wills of their own. Either may need to take care of families from prior marriages. If you have separate property, a prenuptial agreement may be needed. This would nullify your rights to each other’s inheritances, which may be required regardless of how you have your beneficiaries set up in your will. This agreement can also allow both parties to keep their assets separate, which could be a requirement made on either divorce decree.

Should any of your heirs or dependents pass away, you’ll need to update your will to elect a new recipient. Failing to do so could make the execution of your will difficult and add to the heartbreak experienced in an already tough time.
When it comes to charitable donations, you may have to reconsider any charity or causes you chose as beneficiaries. Should the organization you support cease operations, or you become passionate about a different cause, changes will be necessary to make sure that your gift is given correctly.

A few other things to consider are that wills are built with your current state’s laws in mind. Should you move, it’s best to consult an attorney in your new state to make sure your will is in compliance. You should remember that wills are made with the assets you have at the time of creation kept in mind. Should those change significantly, you may want to reconsider how they are to be distributed.

Updating your will can be easy, either by creating an entirely new will or altering your current one through legal documentation, such as a codicil. Either way, you should consult your attorney to make sure that any changes you make are legally sound and protected.