If you have already prepared a will, then you are ahead of the most. But how long ago did you do this? Do you remember what your exact wishes were when you had it prepared? While many people think that drawing up a will is a one-time task, this isn’t how estate-planning tools should be used.
Life is unpredictable, and our relationships and preferences can change over time. If your will was written some years ago, it is crucial to inspect your copy and ensure its contents still reflect your wishes.
Family dynamics and romantic relationships can change considerably over the years. Perhaps your once-favorited niece rarely contacts you anymore or you rekindled a close friendship with a uni friend recently.
A second marriage may have brought wonderful new people into your life. Maybe one of your beneficiaries has passed away. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren may have been born, who are not listed in your will.
Although double-checking your estate planning documents probably isn’t at the forefront of your mind in these scenarios, it is recommended that you review your will following significant changes in your family and personal life.
If your estate has experienced a substantial increase or decrease in value, it is important take a careful look at your estate plan. Do you want a charity to benefit from your newly acquired wealth or have you changed your mind on which charity?
Maybe you bought or sold a major asset, such as a home, or you started a new business. Even if the changes to your estate are small, you may wish to change how your assets are dispersed.
A good rule of thumb is to review important legal documents every three to five years and on certain milestones in life. If you haven’t looked at your will in a while, now is a good time to begin your initial review. You won’t need a lawyer for this first part. Consider the heirs, guardians, trustees and executors named in your will, and ask yourself these questions:
Is anyone missing from the document?
Is someone listed who shouldn’t be any longer?
Have any of the listed individuals’ circumstances changed since this will was drafted?
If questions or adjustments arise, then it is time to make an appointment with your lawyer. They will assist you in creating a new signed and witnessed will or drafting a signed and witnessed codicil that is added to the original document. If your will is valid and still represents how you’d like your estate to be handled, enjoy the added peace of mind that comes with confirming your affairs are in order.