Creating a will may not be the most enjoyable task, but it is an incredibly important one. Having a will as part of your estate plan alleviates some of the challenges with distributing assets and preserves your wishes.
However, things change over time, from your resources and beliefs to relationships. As such, it can be wise to update your estate plan after the following events:
- Birth of a child or grandchild – Having a child or grandchild can alter your distribution in terms of amounts or conditional gifts. It could also change whether you need to assign a guardian.
- Death of a loved one or beneficiary – If an heir or the person you named as the executor, trustee or guardian passes away, you will want to update your estate plan accordingly.
- Financial windfall or losses – Significant increases or decreases in the value of your estate should trigger a review of your will because they can influence the planning tools you utilize, as well as taxes and property distribution.
- Diagnosis or recovery from a severe illness – A severe illness can change a person’s thoughts on family, end-of-life care and even charitable giving. Thus, a dramatic change (or anticipated change) in your health could be a good time to review your estate plan.
- Property sales or purchases – Real estate can be some of the most complicated assets to manage after a person’s death. Confusion over ownership, transfer issues and valuation can all present legal challenges, particularly when a person fails to address them in a will adequately.
- Divorce – Adjusting your will after divorce can ensure that neither your ex nor your ex’s family stands to receive any part of your estate.
- Passage of time – If it’s been several years since you created your will, revisiting your will can allow you to make any changes to make sure it continues to be accurate.
- Relocation – If you move to a new country or province, review your will and discuss with a lawyer any laws that may be different from your previous residence.
When you update your will, you are not just protecting yourself: you are also protecting your loved ones. Without an updated will, there can be increased potential for will contests, confusion and other unpleasant surprises.