When to Update Your Will

Most people write their first will when they get married or have a baby. You should, however, write your first will when you turn 18. Every adult should have a will, and they should update it when they are facing major life changes, such as getting married, buying a house, or having a child.

Keep in mind that you can update, modify, or amend your will at any time in your life, even if updates are especially important during certain moments.

When You Get Married

Getting married means combining your assets with your spouse. You may also want to leave your assets to your spouse in the event of your death. Writing or updating a will can help you clarify your final wishes, and if something happens, it will make things easier on your spouse.

When You Buy a House

Your home is one of your most significant assets, and it should be included in your will. Whenever you buy or sell a piece of property, be sure to update your will. This way, your loved ones will not be left wondering what to do with your house or fighting over a large sum of money.

When You Move

If you move from one state to another, you will need to update your will to make sure it complies with the laws in your new state. Your will only applies in the state you die in, and the last thing you want is an inadmissible or unenforceable will.

When You Become a Parent

Updating your will when you become a parent is extremely important because your will specifies who should care for your child if something happens to you. You can also dive into your estate plan and start setting money aside for your child’s future.

Including your children on your will by name also helps ensure they can inherit your assets in the event of your death.

When You Get Divorced

If you are considering divorce, you may want to remove your spouse from your will. Otherwise, they will inherit everything you left them – even if you die during divorce proceedings.

You will need to update your will again once the divorce is finalized.

Even if you want to keep your ex-spouse on your will, you will need to update the document, so the court knows you meant to leave assets behind to your ex.

When Your Priorities Change

During your lifetime, you may become involved with charitable organizations or causes and wish to leave money behind. Conversely, you might downsize and leave what you have left to those closest to you.

Whenever your priorities in life change, it’s a good idea to review your will and make updates as necessary.

When Your Children Turn 18

When your children turn 18, you no longer need to specify who will take care of them if you die, but you may feel the need to provide for them after you’re gone. You will also have a better understanding of their wants and needs as they reach adulthood.

Your child’s 18th birthday is a good time to update your will.

When Your Children Get Married

Anything you leave to your children might be shared with their spouses, so revisiting your will when your children get married is a good idea. You can be specific that a certain asset is left to your daughter and your daughter alone, or extend assets to your son-in-law, as well.

When Someone Dies

If your spouse or another beneficiary in your will dies before you do, you will need to choose another one or reallocate your resources to your existing beneficiaries. Leaving everything to someone who is no longer alive is a recipe for disaster.

When You Retire

Using your retirement savings can impact your estate and what you leave behind, so you will want to take another look at your will and estate plan when you retire. You should also specify what happens to your retirement plans if you pass away before you finish using them.

When you retire, one of your children may also step up to help take care of you. If this is the case, you may want to leave them additional assets as a reward.

When Your Estate Changes

Your estate might increase or decrease with time. Whenever the value of your estate changes dramatically, update your will to reflect these changes.

You should also update your will whenever you make a gift to avoid any confusion. If you gift your son an antique chair, for example, it might be awkward if you left the chair to your daughter in your will, so you will need to remove the chair from your will entirely.

Every 3 to 5 Years, Regardless of Circumstances

Estate planning professionals recommend updating your will every 3 to 5 years, no matter what is going on in your life. Time changes things, and the laws surrounding wills and estates get updated regularly, so updating your will can help keep it valid and make sure it reflects your current life circumstances.

How to Change Your Will

You can change your will by writing a new one and destroying the old one or implementing a codicil or legal document that updates an existing will.

No matter how you decide to change your will, you will need to follow state laws, and you may want to hire a lawyer to help ensure your documents are accurate and enforceable.

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