Reviewing and Making a Will Should Be a Priority in Your Life, Not an Afterthought
December 28, 2016
Keeping up with a constantly changing world can be difficult. There are so many things to adapt to on a daily basis that it can be easy to let other things slide, as important as they may be. Making a will and reviewing your will on a regular basis is one of these things.
Writing a will in the first place is a big accomplishment. Many people ignore even this crucial first step. Without a will, the courts have say over what will happen to your assets, and possibly over the future of your children. Having an up-to-date will is your only defense against that possibility.
After creating a will, though, it is important to keep it updated to coincide with changing tax laws and changes in your own life that could have an effect on how your will is carried out. Reviewing your will at least once a year is recommended, but if you know of any changes in your life that could have an effect, it’s best to review its contents right away.
One of the most important steps when reviewing your will is to make sure that your relationship with anyone you have named as a beneficiary has remained the same. A divorce, a marriage, the death of a loved one or a birth in the family are all reasons to consider changing how your will is to be handled. Perhaps you have developed a relationship with a specific charity and you’d like to include them in your final wishes. If it is not spelled out in your will, that may never happen.
If you move to a new state, you should get in touch with an attorney to review your will. Different tax laws may have a substantial effect on the current terms of your will, not necessarily in your favor. If your estate has increased or decreased substantially in value, have bought or sold a major investment or started a business, it is definitely time to review your will. Other reasons that should raise a red flag in your mind include adding any new insurance policies you have purchased, for which you need to name beneficiaries.
Another good reason to review your will regularly is to make sure it is written in such a way as to take advantage of, or protect against, any changes in state or federal tax laws. These laws change frequently, with some varying quite a bit from state to state, so it is best to have a lawyer with a specialty in estate planning review these changes for you on a regular basis.
If you are approaching, or have already reached retirement age, it is a must to review your will. Most IRAs and other retirement plans begin requiring that you take annual distributions, which could affect how the assets in your will might change. You may want to reconsider changing your beneficiaries of these accounts, or reallocating the disbursement of how much you have left to whom to accommodate for these later-in-life changes.
In any event, you should make revisiting your will a regular event, if only to ensure that there is nothing you’d like to change.