Despite admitting they know the importance of having a valid Last Will and Testament in place, a surprising number of Americans don’t have one. If you are in the minority, meaning you actually do have a Will in place, you are to be commended. Don’t, however, make the mistake of thinking you can sit back and forget about your Will from now on. On the contrary, your Will can only work as intended if it is current, meaning you need to update your Will on a regular basis. Moreover, a Will alone, while necessary, is usually not sufficient. Your Last Will and Testament should serve as the foundation of a much broader and more comprehensive estate plan.
How Often Should You Review and Update Your Will?
Hopefully, your Will is part of an overall estate plan. If so, you should make a point to review and revise your estate plan, including your Will, on a regular basis throughout your lifetime. During your working years, a review should be conducted every three to five years. Once you retire, a review every five to eight years is usually sufficient. In addition to regular updates, your Will may need to be updated when something prompts the update, including, but not limited to, the following life events:
- Marriage – your own marriage should certainly call for a change in your Will; however, the marriage of a beneficiary may also call for changes to your Will, depending on how you feel about the new spouse.
- Divorce – as with marriage, your own divorce definitely calls for changes to your Will. If you anticipate a beneficiary is headed for a divorce, you might want to make some changes to your Will as well, at least until the divorce is finalized just to make sure your soon-to-be ex son or daughter-in-law doesn’t wind up with assets that were intended for your son or daughter.
- Birth – even if future born children or grandchildren are covered in your plan it is still best to include them by name when they make their appearance into the world.
- Death – when a beneficiary dies it is always a good idea to review your Will. What you may not think about is the need to review your Will upon the death of an Executor, Trustee, Guardian, or anyone else who holds an important position in your plan.
- Move to another state – the laws that govern wills, trusts, and estates vary by state, meaning you should sit down with an estate planning attorney and review your existing Will, along with any other estate planning documents, if you move to a new state.
- Promotion or new job – a promotion or new job can mean an increase in income, a change in benefits, and/or a change in overall working conditions. Any one of these changes could result in the need to make changes to your existing Will.
- New business venture – whether you are the sole proprietor or one of many owners, your interest in a business is an asset. As such, the business must also be included in your Will and/or your overall estate plan.
- Major change in assets – small fluctuations are likely already covered but a major purchase or sale of assets warrants a review of your Will.
If you are unsure when you need to review and update your Last Will and Testament, or are unsure whether a specific event calls for a change to your Will, the best thing to do is to consult with your Missouri estate planning attorney. In addition, once you have a basic Last Will and Testament in place you should start working on a more comprehensive estate plan that can incorporate all of your related goals and objectives.
For additional information, please join us for one of our upcoming free seminars. If you have addition questions or concerns, or you are ready to update your Last Will and Testament, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.