Although common sense dictates that every adult should have some sort of will in place, thousands and thousands of individuals die each and every year without a proper will. However, even those individuals who do create wills often neglect to update the wills regularly, sometimes causing large conflicts within their communities and families when they pass.
If you have a will but have not updated it in a while, then you should strongly consider updating any elements of your will that changed since you last reviewed the document. It may prove useful to simply read over your will with some of these matters in mind.
Of course, you may not entirely foresee how some changes in your life may affect your will. It is always wise to review the document with the guidance of an experienced attorney who understands how to help you assess the full scope of your estate and your will.
Reasons to consider an update to a will
In general, a will tells your friends and family what to do with your property when you die and may include some instructions about other end-of-life events. If you experience significant changes in property, or changes in your family or others named in the will, or if you simply change your mind about how you wish to distribute your estate, you may wish to update your will. These reasons may include:
- Marriages within the family, or your own
- Divorces in the family, or your own
- Family members passing away, or new family members added
- You gain significant assets
- You lose significant assets
- A child mentioned in the will reaches the age of 18
These are broad categories, and as an estate grows more complex, the effects of each of these events may grow more far-reaching. Be sure that you properly adjust your will to avoid unnecessary confusion, conflict and taxation.
Can't I just get forms on the internet for that?
This is a question that seems to pop up a lot these days, and the truth is that these types of documents are often not as legally sound as you might hope. While a will that you acquire cheaply online is usually better than no will at all, this very idea does not reflect an appropriate understanding of the complexity of estate law.
Wills that you get off the internet may work fine as long as nothing goes wrong or no particular party challenges the document in court, assuming that you understand how to properly prepare it. However, a one-size-fits-all document that never receives proper review from a professional attorney is not very solid ground when things do go wrong or challenges do arise.
This approach is similar to attempting to save yourself money by repairing your own plumbing by watching videos of plumbers doing it online. If everything goes perfectly, this might work, but the enormous risks to your home and the catastrophic expense you could incur to solve the issue are probably not worth the risk.