As we move through life, we all encounter events that have far-reaching impacts we may not see at first. If we do not pay attention to significant life events when they occur, this may cause complications later on, for ourselves and for others. One of the best ways to prepare for the unexpected is through creating a will and an estate plan and keeping these documents updated as we pass through major life changes.
Simply creating a will and leaving it in the file folder or safe is certainly better than having no will at all, but to make the most of the protections and advantages that a will offers, you must review the document and amend it when your circumstances change. Otherwise, your will may outline outdated preferences that conflict with your most recent, relevant wishes when you pass away or become incapacitated. Not only does this draw out the process of distributing your property to your beneficiaries, it can cause long-lasting conflicts among the ones you love after you are gone.
Life events that impact a will
In general, it is wise to look over your will any time that your family or group of beneficiaries gains or loses members. This may include
- Getting married or getting divorced
- Death of spouse
- Marriage or divorce of your children or grandchildren
- Birth or adoption of a child or grandchild
- Death of a child or grandchild
- A dependent child reaching adulthood
If you encounter any of these events, it is wise to review your will to identify any changes you need to make. If, for instance, you experience the loss of your spouse or of your child, it is wise to update your will so that it does not list them as a beneficiary.
It is also a good idea to review your will whenever you experience dramatic changes in your estate. When you encounter success or good luck and gain a good deal more personal property than you had when you created your will, some small amendments to your will can help incorporate a larger estate into your will.
Similarly, if you encounter financial difficulties or simply choose to downsize your life, it is wise to update your will to reflect a smaller estate. The more closely that your will reflects your actual estate and listed beneficiaries, the less likely it is for your beneficiaries to run into complications when it is time to carry out your wishes.
Protecting your rights and making your wishes known is an important part of building a will and an estate plan. By paying attention to the changes you experience and regularly reviewing your will for needed updates, you can focus on building the legacy you want to leave behind.