If you have already written a will, you’re in the minority. Less than half of all American adults report having a will describing how they want their estate to be handled after they pass. However, having a will isn’t always enough to ensure your final wishes are respected. It’s just as essential to make sure your will is up-to-date.
If you haven’t revised your will in a few years, it is in your best interest to review it and look for anything that may need to change. You may even need to update a brand new will if your circumstances have changed. Here’s why wills need to be changed and some of the most common reasons to update a will.
Why Your Will Matters
Wills are legal documents that explain how you want your property and assets to be divided after your death. They allow you to set your own terms for your estate instead of having everything resolved by California’s intestate probate laws. If you have written a will, the probate court will use the most recent copy available to determine who will receive what after you pass.
However, that can lead to problems if your life has changed since you wrote your will. If the document is 20 years old when you pass, your financial circumstances, relationships, and opinions have likely changed significantly. The will may not accurately address your assets or leave out people or organizations that have become important to you.
That’s why you need to revise your will regularly. Even if your daily life has changed, probate will follow the last extant will you wrote to the furthest extent possible. If you haven’t kept it up-to-date, you risk leaving people out or causing lengthy probate disputes among your heirs.
4 Reasons You Need to Update Your Will
It’s never a bad idea to revise your will, but some situations make a revision critical. The following four situations are grounds for a thorough review to make sure it reflects your wishes.
1. Your Children Have Gotten Older
If you first wrote your will while your children were young, you likely left their future guardians assets to care for them. However, if your children are now legal adults, that’s no longer necessary. You can revise your estate plan to account for their age and leave them assets directly.
2. You’ve Moved
Any kind of move can significantly alter your estate. Just moving from one home to another affects your finances significantly. You may have purchased or given away assets to make a move more manageable, and you may want your new home handled differently than the old one. This needs to be addressed with a revised will.
Furthermore, if you moved to California from another state, the estate administration and probate laws may be completely different. You should review your estate plans after any interstate move to make sure they follow your new state laws.
3. Your Finances Have Changed
Significant financial changes may make adjustments to your estate plan necessary. For example, if you have had expensive medical events, you may have to adjust the monetary amounts listed in your will. On the other hand, if you have inherited or earned a significant amount since you first wrote your will, these additional assets need to be accounted for.
4. A Beneficiary Has Died
Unfortunately, it is possible that one of your beneficiaries may pass before you do. In that case, revising your estate planning documents to reflect their absence is essential. Failing to do so may leave assets unaccounted for, which may lead to disputes during probate.
Update Your Will With Expert Legal Help
If it has been a while since you last reviewed your will and estate plan, it is time to do so. The expert estate planning attorneys at The Dayton Law Firm are available to help. We have decades of experience assisting clients with drafting and revising wills and estate plans to ensure their wishes are respected. Schedule your consultation by calling 408-758-5750 or emailing us today to learn more about how we can help you.