If you are one of the 50% of Americans who have made a will, Congratulations! You have taken an important step in planning for the future. If you are like most people, however, you put your will in a safe place and never thought about it again. Things change, and people change, and the terms of your will might need to change, too.
Here is a list of circumstances that might cause you to reconsider the terms of your will:
- Change in marital status: Have you been married, divorced or widowed since you made your will? If so, you may want to change the way your estate is distributed.
- Change in family size: As time passes, some family members pass away, and new ones are added through birth, adoption or marriage. Have you made provision for all your grandchildren? If one of your heirs has died, do you want your bequest to pass to that person’s heirs?
- Change in location: Have you moved to a different state since making your will? The laws in every state are different, and your will might not be valid in your new state. Also, a state may consider you a resident if you own property there, even though your main residence is elsewhere.
- Change in circumstances: Are the people you have named as executor, guardians and/or trustees still living? Are they still able and willing to serve?
- Change in estate: If your estate has increased or decreased significantly in size since you made your will, you may need to reconsider the terms. Do you still own all the property mentioned in your will? Do you still control all the assets?
- Change in tax laws: Federal tax laws recently changed and will probably change again. Is your estate still sheltered from as many taxes as possible?
- Change of heart: Have you made a provision in your will for the charities you support? This is the perfect way to make a significant gift that can really have an impact. Do you still support the charities mentioned in your will? Would you like to add a charitable bequest?
Even if none of these things has happened to you, you should still check your will every three years, just in case. Making a will shows that you care about the well-being of your loved ones. Keeping it up to date proves it!
For online help in preparing or updating your will, visit our website, www.lssgiving.org.