When should I update my will?

| Jul 20, 2020 | Estate planning

Completing a will does not mean you put it away in a drawer and never think about it again. Because your life can change in so many different ways, you may have to revise your will more than once. If you do not make changes when you need to, your heirs may have a tougher time receiving their inheritance, or they may not receive anything from you at all. 

There are many reasons to update a will. If you go through a divorce, you might decide to remove your former spouse from your will. Forbes describes some other life events that might cause you to revisit your will. 

Moving to a new state 

When you first wrote your will, you wrote it in compliance with the laws of your home state. However, if you had composed your will in a different state and then moved to Tennessee, you might want to check to see if your will complies with Tennessee laws. States sometimes differ in their will requirements, such as the number of witness signatures required to validate a will, or whether the state recognizes handwritten wills. 

Purging possessions 

Some people want to downsize their estates. They may sell off stuff at auctions or garage sales, or give away possessions to charities or as gifts to friends or relatives. If you have engaged in estate downsizing, you will need to check your will. Chances are you have listed items in the will that you no longer own. You might want to substitute something else in the will so that your heirs do not end up with nothing. 

Shifts in finances 

You might have spelled out how much in dollar amounts your children should receive, but if you have experienced growth in your assets or a large shrinkage, you may need to revise those amounts. You want to be sure that you have enough in your estate to cover your children’s inheritance, or you may want to increase your children’s inheritance if you have come into greater wealth. 

Changes in family dynamics 

If you suffer a prolonged illness or infirmity due to old age, one of your children may devote time and money to taking care of you. You might decide to show gratitude to your child by leaving more money to your child in your will. If so, consider explaining your reasons to your other children so they understand your actions. You may also need to change your will if a child has died and you want to divert assets that child would have received to someone else.