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When you need to update your will

You finally did it after years of procrastinating and months of nagging from your spouse. You’ve created a will and now your estate plan is good to go … or so you think. Creating a will is a great start to your estate planning. Even people in their 20s should consider getting one.

But you’re not finished. Why? Because life happens. And when things change, your will should change, too. A will is a legal document that provides details and directives as to how you want your assets and property divided among your heirs after you have died.

Plan ahead, expect changes

If you’re organized and prepared, you will have thoroughly mapped out a plan as to where you want your assets to go, and then worked with an experienced estate planning attorney. But in time, your life changes and the people within your life may change.

Life events spring up and alter your way of thinking. These are the times when you need to update your will. An out-of-date will can create problems. Don’t neglect to revise your will and other related documents. What if you want other people to be guardians of your children or want a different executor? Then you should change it.

When major life events happen, update the will

Here are some of the major life events that should prompt you into revising your will:

  • Marriage
  • Birth of a child
  • Birth of a grandchild
  • Death of a close family member
  • A home purchase
  • Starting a business
  • Divorce
  • The gaining of a large inheritance
  • A lottery payout
  • When you move to another state because different laws may exist there

You need to work with an experienced attorney to get your will officially updated. Don’t write down your plans on scratch paper or a napkin and assume that you have made the changes. Your options would include creating a new will or adding a “codicil,” which is a supplemental document to your existing will.

And when you’ve created the new will, you should specifically note that you are revoking any previous will. Then destroy the old will and its copies. A little preparation can go a long way in estate planning.


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