Make sure your estate is in the right place.
If you’ve created a will that indicates how your assets are to be distributed, congratulations! You’ve already taken a big step toward your estate planning. But keeping your will updated throughout your lifetime is also an essential, ongoing part of a comprehensive estate plan. Here are nine times when it’s a good idea to review — and possibly update — your will:
1. When you become a parent (or have more children):
If your will stipulates for assets to be divided equally among your children, those born after the will was created will be included. If you have more children after your will has been drafted, you may want to check that the language reflects your wishes.
2. When you move to a new state:
Because state laws differ with regard to taxes and property, it may make sense to review your will with an attorney familiar with your new state’s laws and update it, if necessary.
3. When you receive a windfall:
Should you come into a large sum of money (or other valuable asset), you may decide you’d like to divide your assets differently. Or, your newfound wealth may mean you’ll need to update your plan for estate taxes.
4. When your relationship status changes:
When you marry, divorce or break up with a partner, you’ll likely want to update your will to add your spouse or remove an ex. Make sure other documents, such as your retirement plan and insurance beneficiaries or joint accounts, are up to date as well.
5. When a family member dies:
Should your spouse or other heir(s) predecease you, review how your assets will pass. Although most wills are written with secondary recipients in place, you’ll probably need to add new backups. You may also feel differently about how your assets should be distributed. If your loved one was named a guardian for your children or an executor of your will, be sure to name a new individual to fulfill those roles.
6. When you want to include charitable giving:
As charities become more meaningful to you or your assets grow, you may decide to include causes that are important to you in your will.
7. When laws change:
Estate tax laws, for example, may affect the amount of money you leave your heirs or the vehicles you use to transfer assets.
8. When your health declines:
A degenerative or terminal diagnosis may prompt you to examine your wishes or make monetary gifts to loves ones during your lifetime.
9. When you’ve changed your mind:
Relationships and feelings change from time to time, and it’s a good idea to make sure your will reflects your current wishes. Financial experts recommend reviewing the plan for small estates every five years and large estates annually.
Expertise you can trust
The experienced trust professionals at Rockland Trust can help with your estate plan. Visit your local branch to set up an appointment to met with a representative to begin the process of setting up an estate plan.