How Often Should You Update Your Will?

A will, also known as a last will and testament, is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the guardianship of your dependents after your passing. It serves as a crucial tool for ensuring that your final wishes are honored, and your loved ones are provided for in accordance with your intentions. However, creating a will is not a one-time task. Life is dynamic, and as circumstances change, it becomes vital to keep your will up to date. Regularly reviewing and updating your will allows you to adapt to changing personal, financial, and familial situations, ensuring that your wishes remain relevant and legally binding. In this article, we will delve into the significance of keeping your will current and discuss how often you should consider updating it.

When You Get Married or Divorced

One of the most significant life events that should prompt an immediate update to your will is getting married or divorced. When you tie the knot, it’s essential to review and revise your will to reflect your new marital status and the financial responsibilities that come with it. Marriage often entails the merging of assets and the creation of joint accounts, making it crucial to reassess how you want your assets distributed in the event of your passing. Updating your will after marriage ensures that your spouse is appropriately accounted for and protects their rights and interests. On the other hand, divorce is another critical life change that involves revisiting your will. A divorce can significantly impact your relationships, assets, and beneficiaries. Failing to update your will after a divorce could result in unintended consequences, such as an ex-spouse inheriting your assets or retaining guardianship of your children. By promptly updating your will following a divorce, you can make certain that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your dependents are cared for by the appropriate individuals.

When You Have Children

The birth or adoption of a child is an important occasion that can profoundly impact your life and the future of your family. As a responsible parent, it is important to update your will to include provisions for your children. In your updated will, you can designate a legal guardian who will care for your minor children in the event of your passing. This decision is particularly important, as it ensures that your children are raised by someone you trust and who shares your values. Additionally, updating your will allows you to specify how your assets should be managed and distributed for the benefit of your children. This includes setting up trust funds or creating specific instructions regarding their inheritance. When you update your will after having children, you are providing for their financial well-being and helping to safeguard their future, offering you peace of mind knowing that you have taken the necessary steps to protect and provide for your loved ones.

To learn more about effective ways to save money for your kids, read our blog posts on How to Save Money for Your Kids and How to Teach Your Kids About Money.

When You Buy or Sell Your Home

Buying or selling a home is a significant financial milestone that can have a direct impact on your estate planning. When you acquire a new property, it’s a good idea to update your will to reflect this change in your assets. The value of your home and its inclusion in your estate can have implications for the distribution of your assets among your beneficiaries. By updating your will, you can ensure that your home is appropriately accounted for and that your wishes regarding its ownership and disposition are clearly outlined. On the other hand, when you sell your home, it is equally important to review and update your will to reflect the change in your asset ownership and potentially revise how the proceeds from the sale should be distributed. By regularly updating your will to align with your current real estate holdings, you can maintain an accurate reflection of your assets and help avoid confusion or disputes regarding their distribution after your passing.

When You Move to a Different State

Relocating to a different state brings about various legal considerations that can impact the validity and effectiveness of your will. Each state has its own laws and regulations regarding estate planning, probate, and inheritance. Therefore, it is important to review and update your will when you move to a different state to ensure its compliance with the local laws. Making updates when you move can help you address any variations in legal requirements, such as witnessing or notarization procedures, that may differ from your previous state. Additionally, updating your will allows you to consider any state-specific provisions or tax implications that may affect the distribution of your assets.

When Your Income Changes Significantly

 Significant changes in income can have a substantial impact on your financial circumstances and long-term planning. When your income changes, it is crucial to review and update your will to align with your new financial situation. Your will may contain provisions related to the distribution of assets, establishment of a living trust, or allocation of funds for specific purposes. By updating your will to reflect your changed income, you can ensure that your assets are allocated in a manner that best suits your current financial goals and priorities. This includes revisiting your beneficiaries, considering charitable giving, or making adjustments to the proportion of assets allocated to various individuals or organizations. Revising your will after a change in income enables you to maintain control over your assets and align your estate plan with your evolving financial circumstances, ensuring that your loved ones and philanthropic interests are appropriately provided for.

When You Start a Business

Embarking on a new entrepreneurial venture and starting a business is an exciting milestone in life. Starting a business often involves significant financial investments, partnerships, or ownership stakes. Updating your will allows you to address these new assets and ensure their proper disposition in the event of your passing. You may need to consider successor arrangements, designate beneficiaries or heirs for your business assets, or outline instructions for the transfer or sale of your business. Moreover, updating your will can help protect your business and provide clarity regarding its management and continuity. By doing this you can help safeguard your hard work, protect your business interests, and ensure a smooth transition or continuation of operations in the future.

When You Update Your Executor

The role of an executor in your will is of utmost importance, as this individual is entrusted with carrying out your final wishes and administering your estate. It is essential to review your will when you decide to update your executor. Circumstances may change over time, and the person you initially appointed as your executor may no longer be the most suitable choice. Perhaps their availability, capabilities, or relationship with you have shifted, or you may simply have found someone more aligned with your current preferences and needs. Regularly assessing and updating your executor selection in your will helps maintain the integrity of your estate plan and enhances the likelihood that your final wishes will be carried out smoothly and efficiently.

When Tax Laws Change

Tax laws are dynamic and subject to regular changes at both the federal and state levels. As tax regulations evolve, it becomes crucial to review and update your will to ensure it remains aligned with the current tax landscape. Changes in tax laws can have a significant impact on estate planning, including estate taxes, gift taxes, and inheritance taxes. By updating your will in response to tax law changes, you can optimize your estate plan to minimize tax liabilities and maximize the assets available for your beneficiaries. This may involve revisiting strategies such as establishing trusts, making charitable contributions, or adjusting the allocation of assets to take advantage of new tax benefits or exemptions.

In the ever-changing landscape of personal finance and estate planning, staying informed and proactive is essential. When it comes to managing your investments and ensuring your estate plan remains up to date, Insight Wealth Strategies is here to assist you. As a trusted financial planning company, we understand the complexities of wealth management and the importance of comprehensive estate planning. Our team of experienced professionals can help you navigate the intricacies of keeping your will, trust, and other essential documents current. We provide personalized guidance to ensure that your estate plan reflects your evolving goals, incorporates any relevant legal changes, and maximizes the benefits for you and your loved ones. At Insight Wealth Strategies, we are dedicated to helping you achieve financial peace of mind and ensuring that your legacy is preserved according to your wishes.

To learn more about our wealth management services in Houston, visit our Houston Wealth Management page.

If you are located in San Ramon, you can find detailed information about our wealth management services on our San Ramon Wealth Management page.

Reviewed by,

Chad Seegers, CRPC®

Chad Seegers, CRPC®

Chad began his career with Sagemark Consulting in 2005 and then became a Select member of Sagemark’s Private Wealth Services which operated as a national resource for financial planners focusing on Advanced Strategies in the High Net Worth marketplace. Chad then began his partnership with Insight Wealth Strategies in 2013 focused on retirement planning primarily with Oil and Gas employees and executives. His primary areas of expertise are retirement, estate, and investment strategies as he serves as Investment Strategist for the financial planning team.

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Insight Wealth Strategies, LLC (IWS) and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.