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Are your will and estate plan up-to-date?

Creating a will and estate plan is one of the best ways a person can make their wishes for their property clear to those they love, doing away with potential confusion and conflicts. A strong, updated will and estate plan offer protections to property while establishing a legally enforceable record that clarifies your wishes. Individuals in your inner circle will not develop inaccurate, conflicting ideas about how to care for your property when you pass away.

However, if you create a will and estate plan and neglect to update them when it is appropriate, these conflicts may still come up. Major life events can lead to circumstances that do not reflect the wishes you established earlier, or laws may change that weaken the protections you set up in your estate plan.

To enjoy the benefits and peace of mind that planning ahead provides, it is wise to review these documents whenever you experience a significant life event, or every four years if no significant life events occur. With some extra attention and care, you can protect your rights and enjoy the relief that careful planning brings.

Life events that impact a will

Typically, a will outlines your end-of-life wishes and your preferences around how to divide your property once you are no longer living. As you progress through life, you may experience many significant changes that have implications for your will, such as:

  • Getting married or remarried
  • Getting divorced
  • The death of a spouse
  • The marriage or divorce of a child or grandchild
  • The birth or adoption of a child
  • The death of a child or other dependent

If you encounter any of these experiences, they may seriously impact your planning. For instance, if your child marries, you will likely want to amend your will to reflect this change. If that child then divorces, you should review your will to make sure that the child's former spouse is no longer a beneficiary. If left unaddressed, this could raise serious conflicts among your beneficiaries.

Practical changes to address

It is also possible that the size and nature of your estate may change significantly. If you create your will and estate plan before your net worth increases or decreases significantly, your beneficiaries may be at a loss to interpret your will when the time comes.

Any time that your property grows or shrinks considerably, it is wise to amend your will to reflect these changes, if only to avoid time-consuming and potentially costly conflicts among your beneficiaries.

The longer that a person puts off updating their will, the greater the risk that they simply never will. To protect your rights and make your wishes clear to the ones you love, be sure to make reviewing your planning documents a top priority.

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