How to Tell if it’s Time to Change Your Will

Current research shows that only about half of Americans have a will, and probably less than that have changed their wills when certain life circumstances dictate that a change is in order. There are several common occurrences that can trigger a change to your will:

Marriage. A will dictates how you want your assets distributed upon your death, and when you marry, you will likely want your spouse to inherit. If you have children from another marriage, you will need to account for their inheritance as well. You’ll very likely want to add on a Trust to protect and provide for children of a prior marriage, if you do not have one already.

Birth of a Child. A will allows you to name a guardian for your minor children in case you and your spouse die before your children reach the age of 18. (You will also want to legally protect your children with a Family Protection Plan, which gives you the critical legal tools you need to name and provide guidance to short- and long-term guardians as well as have medical power of attorney over minor children in case they are injured when you aren’t with them and exclude anyone you know you would never want to raise your children.)

Middle Age. As we get older, we usually accumulate more assets, which may include valuable antiques, classic cars, etc. These assets can be distributed to your heirs via your will, and should be included as they are acquired.

Divorce. If you get a divorce and then die without changing your will, your ex can inherit your assets.

Widowed. If your spouse predeceases you, you will need to revise your will to distribute assets to heirs who are still alive.

Relocation. Since state laws differ on inheritance, you should have your will reviewed and updated if you relocate to another state.

If you wish to avoid probate altogether, then you should consider placing your assets in a trust so they pass to your heirs directly without the expense and hassle of a drawn-out court process.

To learn more about your estate planning options, check out my (newly updated!) website for more free tips here.