Proper estate planning includes making sure that the will you have is updated and reflects your current goals, and personal situations. Events which are likely to require revision include marriage, divorce, birth of a child, new legislation, and new court decisions, so it is a good idea to have your will updated periodically.
Below is a will checklist, with some of the more common situations which would necessitate updating your will:
- Review of the will by an attorney has not occurred in the past 12 months.
- You want to change one or more of the beneficiaries in your will.
- Will was written before 1982 and contains a limited marital deduction clause.
- You want to change the amounts you’ll give to one or more beneficiaries.
- You want to change the type of property you’ll give to one or more beneficiaries.
- You want to add or remove a beneficiary.
- Your marital status has changed, or a member of your family's marital status has changed.
- There has been a birth of adoption of children or grandchildren since the last will review.
- There has been a change in your health or a member of your family since the last will review.
- There has been a change in the value of your estate.
- One or more assets has appreciated or depreciated greatly since the last review.
- There has been an acquisition or change in the ownership of life insurance, pension plans, or other retirement benefits since the last review.
- There has been a significant change in a business situation. -You want to change/add/or delete a guardian, executor, or a trustee since the last review.
- You've moved to another state since the last will review.
- There has been a change in the form of property ownership since the last review.
- You've acquired property in another state since the last will review.
- There have been significant tax law changes since the last will review.
- Your will contains language which may not be enforced by a court.
Since a will is revocable, it is possible to revise it a number of times before the decedent’s death. Many wills are revised with the use of a codicil. This is a legal instrument that must be executed according to the same formalities of a will. A codicil is a more convenient method of revising a will, because it can be used to make changes in the will and yet remain relatively simple. Most codicils are only one or two pages long, and are not as costly as having the entire will revised. Codicils are frequently used to make minor changes in a will at a reduced cost.
This is one of the most important documents you will ever create. Make sure that it is up to date; it’s the greatest gift you can give your family.