If you have a living will, you may not have given much thought to updating it. After all, what could have changed so dramatically that you would need to update your estate plan? Actually, many life events, both big and small, may warrant revisions. It is crucial to review your will – including your list of assets and liabilities – on a routine basis. This ensures that your desires and wishes accurately reflect your current living situation, relationships with beneficiaries, and financial debts or gains. If your circumstances have changed significantly, you should contact our attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein for help today.
Designating Beneficiaries and Guardians
Adding a new member to your family, such as an adopted child, son or daughter in law, grandchild, or great-grandchild may inspire you to add them as a beneficiary to your will. On the other hand, it is possible that estrangement or distance has resulted in a muddled relationship between you and another relative. There are no laws stating that you cannot remove a previously named beneficiary from your will.
If you have small children and you have not updated your will since their birth, it is a good idea to designate a guardian and provide instructions in the untimely event of your passing.
In addition, if you purchased or sold real or personal property, such as valuable works of art, a boat, an antique car, or a new home, and you have someone in mind to inherit that property, you should spend time adding the asset to your will, including its value and how you wish to bequeath it. You also want to remove assets you previously sold or gifted to another party.
If you maintain a large portfolio of real properties or investments in land, you need to provide explicit instruction as to how you want your investments to be closed, divested, or transferred to another entity, trust, or beneficiary.
Personal and Intellectual Property
It is also wise to take stock of your personal property like furniture, jewelry, and appliances, and compile an inventory. This process makes it easier to appraise your items, identify what you wish to keep, discard, or donate, and decide how you wish to bequeath remaining items in the event of your passing. Finally, think about your digital assets, such as electronic documents and online stocks, bonds, and financial accounts. Consider providing written, password-protected instructions to your executor or personal representative for all of your assets accessed online, including insurance accounts and annuity plans, including account numbers and contact information. This step, while tedious, will save both your estate attorney and your personal representative a lot of time and trouble in the future, and your estate may be closed more expediently.
If you recently suffered a personal loss and a purported beneficiary is now deceased, you must make revisions to your will. If that beneficiary was designated as your personal representative, you should choose a new one and also designate an alternate representative. If your spouse died, review his or her will to determine what assets are to remain in trust and what assets are to be distributed prior to your passing.
Regarding your health, if a previously designated healthcare power of attorney is now deceased, you must designate a new one. Similarly, if your wishes have changed regarding elections you made in an advanced directive, you should make necessary modifications as soon as possible.
Contact Dworken & Bernstein Today
If you need assistance making will modifications, you should contact our estate and probate attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein. We are conveniently located in both Lake and Cuyahoga counties. Our experienced attorneys can provide skilled advice regarding your estate plan and necessary revisions. Call us today to schedule a consultation.