Creating a Last Will and Testament is the foundation of any estate plan. While executing a Will is certainly essential, updating it is equally as important. As the saying goes “nothing stays the same.” So how do you know when you need to update your existing Will? Although each person presents unique circumstances, there are some common events that warrant revisiting your Will, as well as any other estate planning tools you have in place.
Major life changes always warrant updating your Will. Although there are other events that may also warrant updating your Will, the top three major life changes that clearly require a Will update are marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child or grandchild. The reasons why are equally as apparent. If you get divorced, you likely do not want your ex-spouse to receive the bulk of your estate if you die. If, however, he or she remains a named beneficiary in your Will, that is precisely what is likely to happen. Likewise, if you get married yet fail to name your new spouse as a beneficiary, he or she may not be entitled to anything, depending on the laws of the state where you are a resident. Even if your spouse is entitled to something under state law, it may not be as much as you wished him or her to take from your estate. The birth of a child or grandchild is also a good reason to update your Will. Although the generic term “issue” is often used in a Will to refer to any children or grandchildren, it is best to name children or grandchildren by name in order to avoid confusion. In addition, if you did not have any children when you made your Will, you may not even have a generic provision for any future children, making an update essential.