When Should You Update Your Will?

Thinking about one’s will can be a sobering affair. It reminds us of our mortality and the inevitability of specific life changes. But it’s crucial, especially when considering the peace of mind that comes from knowing your wishes will be honored and your loved ones taken care of after you’re gone. So, in this straightforward chat, let’s explore the often-asked question: when should you update your will?

Life Events That Trigger a Will Update

Just like you check in on your car or attend medical check-ups, you will also need regular reviews to ensure they still reflect your current situation. Several milestones and life events should prompt you to take another look at your will:

1. Marriage or Divorce

When you get married, you’ll likely want to ensure your spouse is provided for in your will. Conversely, if you go through a divorce, it’s vital to update your will to reflect the changes in your life and asset distribution.

2. Birth or Adoption of a Child

Updating your will is necessary if you’ve welcomed a new child or grandchild into the family through birth or adoption. You’ll want to consider guardianship and any inheritance you’d like them to receive.

3. The Passing of a Loved One

Losing someone named in your will means it’s time for an update. Whether they were a beneficiary or executor, their absence will require adjustments to your estate plan.

4. A Substantial Change in Finances

Significant asset changes should signal you to revisit your will, whether it’s a windfall or a financial setback. Adjust how your wealth is apportioned among your heirs.

These are not the only situations that call for an update; they represent some critical instances. Regular reviews every three to five years can also catch any new legal changes or personal circumstances that have gone unnoticed.

Types of Attorneys That Can Help You Update Your Will

1. Incapacity Planning Attorney

If you’re in the Fort Myers area, have made substantial health decisions, or want to plan for potential incapacitation, you might need a specialized legal professional. An incapacity planning attorney can help you craft living wills and healthcare directives that outline your wishes if you cannot decide for yourself. Consulting with a Fort Myers Estate Attorney is a proactive step in ensuring all aspects of your future wellness are legally secured.

2. Charitable Giving Attorney

Incorporating charitable giving into estate plans can be a fulfilling decision for those who hold philanthropy close to their heart. A charitable planning attorney in Fort Myers can help ensure that your legacy of support for causes you care about is continued beyond your lifetime. Working with a professional to update your will ensures that your wishes are met and that you do so in a way that maximizes the benefit to your chosen charities and heirs.

3. Estate Planning Attorney

Maybe you’re just now considering starting a will, or you’ve had a DIY will for a while, and you realize it’s time for a professional look. An estate planning attorney Bonita Springs can help you navigate the complexities of creating a will that stands up in court and aligns with your wishes for now and the future.

Regular Reviews Keep Your Will Up-to-Date

Aside from significant life events, it’s wise to give your will a read-through now and then. Changes in laws or your understanding of your legacy could necessitate some tweaks.

  • Keep abreast of changes in estate law, which could affect the legality and execution of your will.

  • Reassess the choice of the executor as relationships and living situations change.

  • Consider the implications of relocating to a new state or country on your estate planning.

  • Reflect on your charitable giving and whether that should be incorporated or adjusted in your will.

Other Matters Related to a Will

Tax Laws and Your Will

Tax laws can be as volatile as the stock market, and changes in legislation can significantly impact your estate planning. For example, changes in federal estate tax or state inheritance tax laws could significantly affect how much of your estate goes to your beneficiaries versus what is paid in taxes.

Are Online Will Services Sufficient?

The internet has made many things more accessible, including how we create legal documents. But it’s wise to weigh the pros and cons of using online services versus a traditional estate planning attorney when it comes to something as important as your will.

Pros

  • Convenience – create your will from the comfort of your own home.

  • Affordability – usually less expensive than hiring an attorney.

  • Speed – get your will done quickly, often in one sitting.

Cons

  • Lack of personalized advice for your unique situation.

  • Potential for missing complex legal strategies that can save taxes and protect assets.

  • A one-size-fits-all approach that might only be appropriate for some.

Maintaining a Current Will Protects Everyone

A will represents your voice when you’re no longer able to speak. Keeping it updated avoids potential conflicts, ensures your assets are distributed according to your latest desires, and provides clarity for your loved ones in a difficult time. Plus, it can save them time and money and additional heartache from dealing with probate courts or unclear last wishes.

If it’s been a while since you looked at your will, why not bring it out and give it a once-over? Your life has shifted in ways that must be reflected in your estate planning. And remember, making a will isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it affair. It’s a document that should evolve as your life does.

A Final Reminder

Your will is one of the most important legal documents you’ll ever create. Ensuring it correctly reflects your current wishes and circumstances is crucial to your peace of mind and the well-being of your loved ones. A regularly reviewed and updated will is the cornerstone of a secure estate plan.