When to Change Your Will

Is creating a Will a once in a lifetime endeavour or is it something that should be reviewed as life circumstances change? 

The easiest way to answer this is that if nothing in your life has changed since you drafted your Will, there is no need to update your Will. Unless changed, once a Will is drafted, it is valid forever. 

Generally, as time passes, a person's needs and circumstances change. A Will drafted years earlier may no longer fulfill the current needs and desires of the person because a Will should be changed to reflect the true intent of the person. Or, laws and other public developments have changed or been created since you drafted your Will and these changes 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 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 to save on taxes.

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. We have discussed whether or not to update an out-of-state will before here. I encourage you to read that article if this is your situation. 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 motives involved, but the move alone is not one of them.

Jeppesen Law can provide you with a comprehensive Estate Planning. With our Free Initial Consultation we help our clients explore their own situations and plan for their futures. If you have more questions, we'd love to help! Contact Jeppesen Law now. We wish you all the best. (208) 477-1785.