Many people don’t spend enough time thinking about their will, but it is extremely important to keep your will updated. As life changes, so do potential beneficiaries and heirs. If you do not keep your last will and testament updated, it may not reflect your wishes given your new circumstances.
The following are good situations in which changing a will may be wise:
• New or disposed of assets: If in your will you leave all of your property or a percentage of your property to your heirs, then when what you own changes, there is no need to change your will. However, if you have willed certain gifts to people, and you no longer have those properties, be sure to remove said property from your will. Additionally, when you acquire new property be sure that it is accounted for in your will.
•Marriage: When you get married, both you and your spouse should each create a new will. Most states have laws that award a percentage of your estate to your spouse upon your death. However, if you want to devise your will differently, you should specify this in your will. Furthermore, adding your spouse to your will may change the percentage of your estate, or of a specific asset, that another beneficiary or heir was previously written to receive. Changing a will should reflect this new proportion as you see fit.
• Obtaining a new partner, without marriage: Only if married will your partner automatically receive assets from your estate. So, if you find yourself with a new loved one, changing a will to reflect what you would like to leave that partner is necessary.
• A new baby: There are laws in some states that give children some portion of your assets upon your death. However, not everyone wants their property to be distributed the way the state laws specify. If you welcome a new baby into your family be sure to specify what gifts the baby shall receive, by changing a will. Perhaps more importantly, be sure to appoint a guardian for the baby. This shall be the person who will care for your baby should anything happen to you.
• New stepchildren: Stepchildren may not be automatically entitled to inherit a share of your property. Therefore, if you would like for your stepchildren to inherit any of your property, be sure to specify your wishes by changing your will.
• Moving from a community property state to a common law property state: The laws governing what each spouse owns vary depending on whether the couple lives in a community property state or a common law property state. Therefore, if you are planning on moving to a new state, check that states laws. If it differs from the one you currently reside in, be sure to change your will, according to your new property ownership status. Nevada is a community property state.
• Changing your mind about heirs: Of course, things can happen in life that cause people to change their minds about the way in which they’d like their property distributed. Changing a will to reflect these new wishes is necessary.
• Divorce: Upon divorce, some states revoke any gifts you leave your spouse in your will. Other states do not. Changing a will upon a divorce is very important. You will want to either specify what you want to leave your former spouse, or else specify how those gifts should now be distributed.
In a future article, we’ll talk about why you should consider a trust in addition to a will.
Source: based on information at Findlaw.com