Justin Jeppesen: When to Update a Will

Although creating a Will or Trust is a substantially important decision to make, it is not something you can do once and forget about. Too much tends to happen from year to year that makes it necessary for you to periodically update your Will or Trust, typically in the 5-10 year mark.

However, if nothing has changed since you drafted your Will, there is usually no need to update your Will. Unless changed, once a Will is drafted, it is valid forever.

Typically, over time your needs, wants and circumstances will change. A Will created many years earlier may no longer reflect your current desires, or needs,

Another area to consider are the laws. Since your first Will or Trust was created the laws and other public developments may have changed or been created and these changes can have an impact on your Will.

The following changes in a person's life should immediately cause a review of the person's Will:

1. A change in marital status. Marriage makes the new spouse a pretermitted heir. A divorce might not cut the ex-spouse out of the Will.

2. Children are born or adopted. State laws allow unmentioned children to claim a portion of an estate as pretermitted heirs. These children, however, might not receive under state law what the decedent would have given them.

3. Step-children. In most states, step-children of a deceased person have no rights to inherit under a step-parent's estate. Therefore, if a step-parent, or commonly, if a step-grandparent, wishes to make dispositions to a step-child, that intent must be specifically stated in a Will.

4. Estate Value. The value of the estate changes and the earlier gifts were too much, too little or there is now enough to give to others as well.

5. Death. The intended heirs, executors, guardians or trustees have died.

6. Laws. Changes in estate or inheritance tax laws that make changing the Will advisable. Also, HIPAA laws are becoming much more stringent and your Powers of Attorney should reference them. Or, have you moved from one State to another? Are the laws of the new state similar or not? Would updating your Will or Trust benefit you after a move?

7. Needs. The necessity for testamentary trusts for surviving spouse and children no longer exists.

A Will should be reviewed every few years for possible changes. Tax laws change frequently and Wills should be reviewed to ascertain their effect on the estate.

An important and very likely change in our lives is moving from one state to another. I have covered whether or not to update an out-of-state will before here. If you have recently relocated, I encourage you to read that post. However, the short version is that just moving from one state to another does not necessitate an update to your Will. There generally are other factors involved, but the move alone is not one of them.

Jeppesen Law can provide you with a comprehensive Estate Planning. With a Free Initial Consultation we can explore your situation and plan for your future. If you have more questions, please ask! Contact Jeppesen Law now. I wish you all the best. (208) 477-1785.