Once you take the time to establish your wishes for your estate in your will, it is easy to let the first draft be the last draft. Unfortunately, if you don't update your will when you experience life events that impact it, your loved ones may face a difficult time honoring your wishes when the time comes.
Many life events can affect a will, as well as changes in the law that may occur without your realizing it. It is typically wise to review your will and make sure that it is up-to-date every four years, to help avoid unfortunate complications. This process does not take long, and can hep prevent many different complications that prolong distribution of your estate to your beneficiaries.
Has your family or list of beneficiaries changed?
Some of the most common complications in honoring a will arise when the beneficiaries listed in the will do not reflect your actual wishes. This can easily happen if you do not update your will when you gain or lose someone in your life that you wish to receive your property.
Say, for instance, that you create a will that lists your spouse as your primary beneficiary, and then do not update the will again. Several years later, you divorce your first spouse and then remarry. If you do not update your will to reflect this change, your current spouse may not receive your property as you wish.
It is wise to update your will any time that you gain or lose a beneficiary through marriage, death, birth or adoption.
Does your will properly reflect your estate?
It is also important to make sure that your will reflects your actual estate. In the event that your net worth increases or decreases significantly, be sure to update your will to reflect theses changes.
This is particularly important if you lose a significant asset that you wish to leave to beneficiaries. With fewer assets to divide, your beneficiaries may end up in conflict over who gets to keep what. On the other hand, if you suddenly have much more to leave to those you love, it is wise to outline carefully how you want these assets divided. The clearer you are about these issues, the fewer opportunities there are for your beneficiaries to object.
Protecting your legacy now
Estate planning issues often end up on the back burner because we do not want to contemplate the end of our lives, and this is normal. However, the truth is that failing to deal with these matters while you can only passes that burden on to the ones you love. Be sure to protect your legacy with a strong legal strategy, keeping your rights secure and allowing you to focus on living fully with the ones you love.