When creating a Will, it is not a once and done activity. Estate planning, which includes creating a Will, is a process. It is wise to consult with your estate planning attorney every three to five years to update your plan to reflect changes in your life, goals, and assets; changes in the law; and changes in your estate planning attorney’s experience. When creating a Will keep in mind that you should contact your estate planning attorney immediately (don’t wait for the three to five years to expire) if any of the following are applicable for you:
1. You get married or divorced
2. You have a new life partner
3. You have a baby or adopt a child
4. Your assets change significantly
5. You move to a new state
6. Your goals or choices change
You need to update your Will and all of your estate planning documents if you get married or divorced. A spouse is legally entitled to inherit from you in most states, unless you have a contract indicating otherwise such as a prenuptial agreement. If you get divorced, your goals likely have changed as well. And, in many states any gift in your Will is automatically revoked upon divorce.
You need to update your Will if you have a new life partner. If you are not married, your life partner does not have the legal right to inherit from you. You need to put your wishes in writing legally so as not to disinherit your partner. Laws vary from state to state so consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to guide you through the process of creating a new Will.
You need to update your Will if you have a new child. A Will is used to name a guardian for minor children and you may make financial provisions for your child in your Will. If you have stepchildren, they have no legal right to inherit unless you make specific provisions for them. Unlike adopted children, they are not automatically included when you use the term “my children” in your Will.
You need to update your Will if you acquire or dispose of large assets. If you have come into a large sum of money, it is likely that you will need estate planning different than that you currently have. And, if you’ve made specific gifts of assets you have sold or given away, your Will should be updated accordingly.
You need to update your Will if you move because even though your current Will may be technically valid, it is cumbersome to administer a Will under another state and you’ll likely have to hire two attorneys to do so, one in your new state and one in your previous state.
And, lastly, you need to update your Will simply if you change your mind. Let your estate planning attorney know if your goals change or if you have any questions.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.