Just as your life changes, so should your will. You may need to replace an executor, update accounts, or adjust heirs if you have an estate plan with greater wealth or need more complex arrangements, such as trusts or guardianship provisions. In that case, you may want to work with an experienced estate planning attorney, according to US News’ March 2018 article, “4 Times It Makes Sense to Revise Your Will.” Let’s look at the four events:
- You’ve experienced a significant life event. This may be a marriage, divorce, childbirth, remarriage, or death of a loved one. These changes may require that new heirs be added to a will or others removed. These life events may also influence how assets are divided in the will. In addition, if you move to a new state, update your will to ensure it adheres to the laws there.
- A person in your will has experienced a significant life event. Wills also include executors, trustees, and guardians. These individuals may move, get married, or become sick or disabled, which could change whether they are appropriate for the role in your will.
- The tax laws have changed. You may write a will to minimize the effects of estate taxes. When laws change, the will provisions may need to be updated. For example, in 2017, $5.49 million of a person’s estate was exempt from the 40% federal estate tax. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, $12.06 million of an estate is currently exempt from the tax in 2022. This could mean that some families no longer need to worry about paying an estate tax and could eliminate the need for some trusts or other provisions in a will.
- Suppose it’s been three to five years. It’s wise to review a will at least every three to five years and ensure that all provisions align with your wishes.
While reviewing your will, don’t forget to check beneficiaries on bank accounts, retirement funds, and life insurance. Remember that a named beneficiary trumps the will.
Make sure that all that hard work on your will does not go to waste by reviewing and updating the document periodically to ensure it reflects your life’s changing landscape.
When you update the will, store it in a secure location, like a fire-proof safe, and let your executor know where to find it. If an attorney drew up your will, they’d be happy to store a digital copy for you.
Reference: US News (March 30, 2018) “4 Times It Makes Sense to Revise Your Will”