If you have already created your will, you are well ahead of most Americans. However, many people do not realize that wills must not only reflect their wishes, they must also abide by current laws and changes in their lives.
If the provisions laid out in your will do not align with your life circumstances and the current laws when you pass away, it may prove very difficult to execute your will efficiently. Avoid resources from being drained from your estate and potentially opening the will up to challenges from various parties by educating yourself about your options.
Review your estate plan
It is always wise to review your estate plan every few years, even if you do not experience life changes that you believe affect your will. You may find that your wishes are no longer the same, or may need to account for changes in estate planning and tax laws that could adversely affect your will's terms. For example, new tax laws alter a number of longstanding tax protections and exemptions, and may have serious implications for your will. However, state laws also affect estate plans, and these may change without much notice.
Seek professional help
An experienced attorney is a useful guide whenever you or someone you love needs to review or amend an estate plan. Not only can an attorney help you identify any potential complications, an estate planning lawyer can help make sure that you have the education and tools you need to make your wishes clear and protect your priorities, for yourself and your beneficiaries.
Consider these life changes
Many life changes may require you to review and possibly amend your will or trust. These may include
- Your marriage or remarriage, or the marriage or remarriage of a beneficiary
- Your divorce, or the divorce of a beneficiary
- The birth, adoption, or death of a beneficiary
- Any significant increase in your assets
- Any significant loss to your estate
- Any changes in your own wishes, especially involving conflicts between yourself and potential beneficiaries
All of these life events may seriously affect the terms of your estate plan. If you assume that your will is just fine despite these changes in circumstance, you may realize too late that this is far from accurate, potentially diminishing your estate.
You may also create needless disputes between beneficiaries if you fail to update your will to reflect new beneficiaries or effectively remove those whom you no longer wish to include. For instance, if you get divorced and remarry, once you pass away, your former wife may have a legitimate right to a significant portion of the estate.