If you have had a major event in your life in the recent past, there could be something you have overlooked — updating your will. If you are like many people, you are more likely to focus on the problems right in front of you than to think about what could be a distant eventuality.
However, it is never too early to change your will when something important happens. After all, part of the reason you have this estate planning document is to prepare for anything.
It is completely understandable if you do not want to go back into an attorney’s office immediately following a divorce. If you drafted a prenuptial agreement, the same could even hold true after a wedding. The good news is not only could modifying your will save untold time in probate, but it is also a relatively quick and simple procedure.
Respond to events
Marriage and divorce are not the only times you would want to think about changing your estate plan. Here are some other examples of events which could prompt you to change your will:
- Buying a house, or any asset acquisition
- Suffering a death among your beneficiaries
- Getting a new grandchild
- Adopting a child
It could even be wise to change the terms of your documents if you sell a house, a car or anything else that you wanted to distribute. This could help you redirect wealth as you see fit, and it could also prevent disputes among your beneficiaries.
Set a schedule
You might find it useful to set up a schedule to review your will. This can be as easy as taking it out of your files every year around tax time.
You could also schedule a recurring five-year appointment with an estate attorney or other trusted advisor. Let your advisor’s office know when you expect to look over your documents, and they will probably call to remind you when you’re getting close.
Every time you have a major life event, you can go ahead and reset your five-year appointment after you modify your estate plan. Just make sure that you treat old versions correctly; having one official will could preclude many will contests.
Having a will organized and updated will is just one aspect of an effective estate plan. It is a way of showing that you care — and of making sure that your hard-won assets continue to serve everybody’s best interests.