Protecting the ones you love and making sure that your end of life wishes remain clearly stated are important parts of creating a will. If you've already taken the step of making a will, then you are well ahead of many Americans who continue to put it off. Some of them will wait too long and never get around to crafting a will, leaving a mess for their survivors to sort through while they simultaneously cope with the loss of their loved one. Fortunately, if you already have a will, then you don't have to worry about that nearly as much.
However, a will is only as useful as it is accurate. If you change your mind later on about something that you put into the will, then you should certainly take the time to amend it and make sure that your wishes remain clear.
Similarly, if you or your family experience any of a number of important life milestones, it may require updating your will. If left unchanged for too long, the contents of the will may not relate very clearly to your estate or to your heirs.
When do you need to update a will?
A will is basically a set of instructions, to put it in very simple terms. These instructions can create conflicts easily if they no longer match the circumstances and estate of the will creator.
For instance, let's say you are a 45-year-old family man with a wife, two daughters and a son. You work for an industrial company and own a home on five acres of land. You create your will based on these factors.
However, by the time you pass away, you've divorced, remarried, seen your children marry, and you have several grandchildren. Not only that, but you've sold the house on the land and moved to a smaller home.
If your family attempts to apply your will's stated wishes, it may cause great confusion and conflict, eating up resources and creating infighting in the family.
It is wise to review and update your will roughly every five years, or anytime that you experience significant life changes, such as
- marriage or divorce of a beneficiary
- death, birth or addition of a beneficiary
- significant changes in your assets, like buying or selling a house or business
- significant financial gains or losses
Get the help you need to protect the ones you love
It is always wise to review and update your will with the guidance of an experienced attorney. Not only does an attorney help you ensure that you address all the important issues in a will, he or she can keep you informed of changes in federal or state law that may affect your will, and help you update it accordingly.