Considerations in Creating a Will
You have a Will – congrats! Does this mean you can toss it in your dusty file folders to never look at again? Nope. A common error in estate planning is creating a Will but then failing to update it when life circumstances change. Failing to update it could leave your loved ones with complicated situations that could possibly damage their relationships and cause a legal hassle.
If you don’t yet have a Will, check out this Fortune Magazine article that prominently features LegalShield. It’s about how important Wills are to estate planning. According to a LegalShield survey, 54% of Americans don’t have a Will or trust. Those without a Will are twice as likely to feel stressed and afraid as those with Wills. So let there be no doubt: a Will is in your best interest and your family’s best interest.
Life is constantly changing, and your Will should reflect those changes. While there are obvious circumstances where you may need to update your Will, such as marriage or divorce, other times are not so obvious but are just as important.
Keep in mind that everyone’s personal situation differs, but the below instances are good examples of when you may need to update your Will throughout the years:
- When you have kids
One of the biggest reasons to have a Will in the first place is to designate a legal guardian for your minor children if you were to pass away. Without selecting a legal guardian for your kids, you have no input into who will care for them if you pass away. That decision will then belong to your state’s court system. So, as you plan for a new family member, make sure that addition is reflected in your Will.
- When someone passes away
If someone to take under the Will, a person named to be the executor or anyone you selected to be a legal guardian passes away, or you simply decide to remove them from your Will for whatever other reason, make sure those adjustments are corrected in your Will. If you die without updating this or naming an alternate individual, the decision of the replacement will belong to your state’s court system.
- When someone in your Will gets married or divorced
Or, you are getting married or divorced. If your marital status or relationships are changing, you should seek advice and assistance from an estate planning lawyer. If you choose a couple to be legal guardians of your children and they have since divorced, you may need to update your Will. You will need to consider possible issues when you name two people to serve together. You should make your wishes clear and may need alternate provisions.
- If your financial situation changes
If you change or lose a job, for example, you might take another look at your Will. Or, perhaps, if you have acquired more wealth over the years, you might want to revisit your Will and make some adjustments.
- Relocating your residence to another state
Estate planning laws differ from state to state, so once you move, consult with an estate planning lawyer to adapt your Will to the required changes. Also, think about how life shifts when you move and how it impacts your family. Say you moved from Kansas to California. If you had designated your sister as a legal guardian for your child because she also lived in the same neighborhood in Kansas, maybe you want to update that to be someone in California, so your child doesn’t have to change schools, etc.
- If your health status changes
If you are undergoing treatments for an illness, for example, you may need to update your estate planning, including documents related to medical decisions, life-sustaining treatment, someone to make decisions if you are unable. Talk with a lawyer about how to declare these wishes and check if there are any other adjustments needed because of your condition.
- If there’s a change in the law that might impact your Will and Estate Planning
Changes in the law can impact your estate planning. Not solely probate law, but any other law that could affect your financial situation in any way. Consult with an estate planning lawyer and adjust your Will and estate planning as needed. It’s worth mentioning, however, that a POA cannot change the content of your Will.
- You might want to make changes as your family grows older
Perhaps your children are now at the age of majority (in most states, that age is 18) or their circumstances have changed which may require adjustments to your Will or the age they should receive the remainder of the assets left to them.
Or maybe, as they get older you realize that the family ring you had previously declared to give to your niece should go to your daughter. If you know you want certain assets to pass to the right person, things like this are important to correct
- If you acquire new assets you want to make specific provisions for
Perhaps you bought real estate, a car, or a piece of art which were not previously addressed in your Will and you would now like to make a specific provision for them. Perhaps you invested in stocks you would like to give to your grandson.
- Periodic Reviews
Regardless of what changes in your life, you should have your Will and other estate planning reviewed periodically as inevitably, things change that we don’t realize. Relationships, circumstances and the law can change. For example, maybe as your child gets older, you realize the family member you had designated to be your child’s legal guardian seems like a mismatch now. To avoid complications and to provide for these and other issues, it’s important to take these things into consideration throughout the years.
Your Will is one of the most important documents you will ever create and making sure it stays up to date and relevant is equally critical. Sign up for a LegalShield Membership today and start the estate planning process.
LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice or assistance. If you are a LegalShield member, you should contact your Provider Law Firm.