If you already have your last will and testament prepared, you're ahead of most. Some surveys indicate that as many as 6 in 10 American adults don't have a will or estate plan on file. But life circumstances change, and the will you executed a decade or more ago may no longer reflect your wishes or desires. Once you have a will, how often should you amend it, and what life circumstances or changes should prompt a review with your probate attorney? Read on to learn more about what to consider when amending your will.
Do You Need to Amend Your Will?
There are some situations in which your original will may not ever need to be changed. This is especially true if you executed your will as an adult, after all your children were born (or after you decided not to have children), and if you don't plan to remarry if your spouse dies. A will also has less impact on an estate plan if the majority of your property is held in a trust since the trust documents will dictate how the trust property is distributed. In these situations, even if your will was executed half a century ago, it may still dispose of your property in the way you'd like it to.
However, if your first will was drafted before you were married, had children, or had many assets to speak of, it may not be as up-to-date as it could be. For example, you may want to make a provision for a charitable bequest, something you may not have felt you could afford when you initially drafted your will. And if you have children to protect, leaving all your property to your spouse—who could remarry and pass away, leaving these assets to the new spouse instead of your children—may no longer be the best decision.
What Circumstances Usually Require a Will Amendment?
There are a few life changes that almost always require you to revisit your last will and testament. These include:
- Getting married (or divorced);
- Having children or adopting children;
- Having a falling-out with a close relative;
- Having grandchildren (some grandparents wish to leave individual bequests to each grandchild, while others prefer to leave all their assets to the next generation); and
- Realizing that the executor you've named in your will is no longer able or willing to serve in that capacity.
By keeping these trigger points in mind, you'll be sure to have the most up-to-date will possible. Speak to a probate attorney to learn more.