All legal adults should have a will, even if they do not have much property to their name and no dependents, if only to make sure that their property goes to the beneficiaries they choose. Some adults, however, have many people who depend on them, and must pay much more attention to their will and estate plan.
If you have family members with specific needs or aging parents who depend on you to help stay on top of their affairs, then you need to make sure that your will and estate plan are clear and up-to-date. A simple way to avoid many of the complications in estate planning and probate is to review and amend your will when you experience significant life events, or every four years if no major life changes occur.
Changes to your beneficiaries and estate
If you support close family members, it is likely that they are your beneficiaries. In order to keep matters as simple as possible when the time comes to execute your will and estate plan, it is wise to update our will any time your list of beneficiaries changes. This may happen if you get married or divorced, or if a beneficiary gets married or divorced. Similarly, this may occur if you gain or lose a beneficiary through death, birth or adoption, or if you have a child who ages into adulthood.
At the same time, you should also review your will if your estate changes in a significant way. Any time you purchase or sell a home or some other large asset, or see your net worth increase or decrease meaningfully, you should look over your will to make sure that all of the language applies to your current estate. You also want to look for any portions of your estate not addressed by the will and update the language if it is necessary.
Changes in estate law
You may not experience any large changes in your list of beneficiaries or in your estate within four years, but estate laws may change significantly. Don't assume that your will is still in its most effective form just because your life remains consistent. If an estate planning law changes and your will or estate plan do not account for it, you could miss great benefits and protections that a simple review can reveal.
This is particularly important when it comes to providing for the ongoing care of your loved ones. Many financial tools offer benefits tailored to the needs of those with family members who have long-term needs, but they must cooperate with laws that may change every several years in order to remain effective.
Reviewing and amending your will every several years may seem like a chore, but it is one of the best things you can do for your own peace of mind and for the peace of mind of those who depend on you. Be sure to protect the rights and best interests of the ones you love with a strong legal strategy and occasional due diligence.