Making the decision to write a will was a courageous move. After all, writing a will meant you had to take the time to consider your own mortality and dwell for a time on how life will go on after you are gone. It was likely difficult, and that is one reason why so many people postpone the task until it is too late.
However, your family will likely be grateful for your efforts since your will may save them many questions and frustrations after you pass away. Unfortunately, your work is not over. As difficult as it may have been to draft your will in the first place, it is important that you revisit it from time to time to ensure it is still relevant. Failing to update your will at key moments in your life may leave your family with a useless document.
Reasons to revise your will
Life changes quickly, and as the year draws to an end, you may be surprised to look back and see the ways your life has taken new turns. Some of them may be cause for rejoicing and others for pain. Nevertheless, many life events may render your will obsolete, for example:
- Getting married: Marriage may change the ownership of some of your most valuable assets, such as your home, especially if your spouse now has survivor rights.
- Having children: Not only do you want to assign assets to your children appropriately, but you will also want to include details about their guardianship if you should die while they are still young.
- Getting divorced: You certainly do not want your possessions to end up in the hands of a former spouse because you neglected to change your beneficiary designations in your will. This will be especially important if you have remarried or intend to remarry.
- Losing a loved one: If one of your beneficiaries passes away, the assets you have assigned to him or her in your will may end up as a source of conflict for the remaining heirs.
- Changes in your wealth: If you have sold or purchased a business, real estate or assets outside the state of Illinois, or if you have made changes in your investments, your will should reflect these changes.
Other events may evoke a revision of your will, such as new tax laws or a different way of thinking about your wealth. Perhaps as your children grow, you decide to leave more of your money to a charity, or you may wish to add your grandchildren to your estate plan. Frequent reviews of your will can keep it relevant and allow you to add other estate planning tools as appropriate.