It’s never too early to create a will, even if you’re young and healthy, but keep in mind, updating your will over time is essential. As you age, gain assets and/or your family dynamics have changed due to death, divorce or other matter, it is important to modify your will accordingly. If your will is not updated regularly, your assets may be distributed to individuals who are no longer in your life, and the person you trust to handle things upon your death may also no longer be someone in your life or someone you trust.
Listed below are key milestones that will likely impact your will:
- Marriage or remarriage: Getting married typically means combining assets and debts, unless otherwise agreed upon. When you marry, its best to update your will to reflect your current circumstances and what you would like your spouse to inherit. The same is true for remarriage.
- Children or grandchildren: As soon as a child or grandchild is born, especially the first one, it is very important to update your will to include them. Be sure to designate a guardian for your minor children, in the event you and your partner die prematurely. You may wish to set aside assets specifically for their care, college tuition, healthcare emergencies and other considerations.
- Amassing or losing major assets: When you acquire major assets, such as real estate or an inheritance, your will should be updated accordingly. Similarly, if you sell your home, or an asset loses significant value, you may need to reflect some of these changes in your will. Doing so eliminates any confusion about your finances and how they should be distributed.
- Illness or disability: If you, your spouse or children suffer a long-term illness or disability, you’ll probably need to set aside funds for healthcare, assisted living and other medical expenses, especially if you can no longer work. What you planned to pass on to an heir may need to be reserved for yourself.
- Divorce: After your divorce, take the time to update your will accordingly. Most people do not want their ex-spouse to inherit anything, unless otherwise agreed upon. If you have minor children, you can designate their inheritance be held in trust until they reach the age of maturity.
- Death of heirs or executors: Finally, if any of your heirs or executors die prematurely, your will should be modified accordingly. It will be imperative to name a new executor(s) and a new distribution of assets. When you’re ready to update your will, schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable and highly experienced estate planning attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein.