When Should I Update My Will?

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There are some obvious triggers that might prompt you to update your will, such as changes in health or marital status. There are, however, also some not-so-obvious ones to be aware of, according to financial planners and attorneys.

CNBC’s recent article entitled “When it comes to a will or estate plan, don’t just set it and forget it” says that your will should be updated when your personal circumstances change,  could happen at any time. Some frequent triggers include:

  • Changes in health, including that of executors and guardians
  • Changes in laws, which may impact tax and legal strategies; and
  • Changes in state residence, which can also impact planning.

Every state has different laws as to the administration of a will. They will vary regarding the required residence of an executor, inheritance tax laws and whether a child can be disinherited by omission.

It’s wise to review your will every few years with an estate planning attorney, who likely will say that documents should also be reviewed when these events happen:

  • A substantial change in your financial status
  • A change of parental status, like the birth of a child
  • A change of guardians
  • Changes in designations of fiduciaries, such as the executor of the will, successor trustee of a revocable trust, attorney-in-fact, or health-care agent; and
  • Changes in a family member’s situation, such as if a child develops special needs and will need appropriate planning.

The article says that an overlooked trigger to updating your will is consolidation in the banking industry. If you named a bank as the executor of your estate and the bank has been bought or sold recently, you may now have a new executor.

Make certain that you know who that person or institution is – and that you trust its judgment.

It’s also important to revisit your beneficiaries after marriage or divorce.

Reference: CNBC (March 1, 2022) “When it comes to a will or estate plan, don’t just set it and forget it”

Suggested Key Terms: Estate Planning Lawyer, Wills, Probate Court, Inheritance, Asset Protection, Will Changes, Executor, Personal Representative, Probate Attorney, Beneficiary Designations

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