How Often Should I Update My Will?

This is a common question from estate planning clients. Once a year, you should make a point of thinking through your family and life circumstances with an eye toward your estate planning goals and priorities. Major life changes involving you or your family often create the need to revisit your Will and other estate planning documents to make sure they effectively reflect your current intentions.

Here is a list of common life events that often indicate it is time to update your Will:

  • Your marital status changes –if you were single when you prepared your Will and then subsequently got married, you should update it to adequately provide for your spouse after your death. If you and your new spouse both brought children to the marriage, special attention is required to address how your plan can best provide for your blended family. A divorce also likely means your Will no longer reflects your goals and should be updated.
  • A birth or adoption in the family – if you have or adopt a child, your Will should be revised to make sure the child is properly provided for according to your wishes, including naming a Guardian and Trustee to be responsible for your children and their inheritance, in the event that both parents pass away while your children are under the age of 18.
  • Serious family illness or disability – if a family member develops significant medical needs, your priorities for your estate may change. Among other concerns, a direct inheritance may actually jeopardize government support that family member relies upon. In such an instance, your Will should include provisions that properly address that concern.
  • A significant inheritance – if you win the Tennessee Lottery, or your wealthy grandmother leaves you a bundle, you may want to speak to your estate planning attorney to ensure your new-found wealth is preserved, and your potential gift and estate tax burden is minimized. On the flip side, a significant decrease in estate value may also be the right time to rethink bequests in your Will.
  • You move out of state – A valid will remains valid even if you move to another state. But states operate under different rules. A good plan in one state may be less effective in meeting your goals in another state.
  • Your children grow up – Once your children are no longer minors, provisions appointing a guardian or establishing a trust may no longer be necessary. Helping provide for your grandchildren may be a new concern your current Will did not contemplate.

When attorneys prepare wills and other estate planning documents, we try to help clients anticipate and plan for life changes. But even the most detailed and well-constructed Will cannot adequately plan for every life contingency. Creating a Will is an important step in providing for your loved ones in the manner you intend. But it is only a first step. Your goals are likely to change as your life changes. Update your Will and estate plan accordingly.

Please contact us today, online or by calling 800.705.2121 to discuss your legal options.