When it comes to the topic of wills and your estate plan, there are two lessons that everyone should know. The first is that you should have a will. It may seem obvious and even curt to say that, but it’s the truth. It doesn’t matter if you’re younger or much older — if you don’t have a will right now, then take the time to make one. Wills protect your estate and preserve your last wishes, while also giving your loved ones and beneficiaries legal documentation to establish what they are entitled to.
The second lesson is to make sure that once you have a will, you update it frequently. This part is just as critical as making the will in the first place. If you don’t update your will, it is unlikely that the document will reflect your wishes at the end of your life.
So when should you update your will? As a basic rule, you should update it if enough time has passed since your last update — even if nothing significant has changed in your life or within your estate. Simply reviewing the document and understanding the provisions it contains is a crucial step.
However, it is likely that some major moments will occur between your will updates. Perhaps you got married or divorce. Maybe you had kids, or they just turned 18 years old. Maybe you lost or gained a valuable asset, or the laws in your state relating to estates and wills changed. Or maybe your relationship with your beneficiaries changed over time, or a beneficiary passed away.
All of these circumstances warrant changes to your will, and those changes only happen if you review your will.