You’ve got many important documents you keep safe: your Social Security card, your birth certificate, your marriage certificate and, perhaps most important, your will. Though some of these documents can’t be changed, your will can be modified throughout your life so that your estate is handled according to your wishes after your passing. You want to make sure the right people inherit your assets, and those circumstances can change over time in relation to choices and relationships. Here’s a look at some reasons to change your will.
Adding a New Child to Your Family
Welcoming the addition of a new child — whether it’s through birth, adoption or marriage — is an exciting and humbling event. It also prompts the modification of your will so that you can ensure the child’s welfare or designate them as a beneficiary or executor of your estate. You may want to revisit the proper allocation of your assets, too, in the event of your passing.
Your Child Gets Married
When your child marries and creates a family of their own, you may want to adjust your will accordingly to look after their family. But if they’re getting married and you’re not feeling confident about the strength or longevity of their marriage, you should plan for your assets to pass directly to your child. One challenge a person can face involves a beneficiary’s spouse: After all, you likely want your assets to ultimately end up with your child, especially if those assets are subject to loss during possible divorce proceedings. You may be able to safeguard your child’s benefits by creating an irrevocable trust (depending on the divorce laws in the state where your child resides).
Problems With a Beneficiary
Maybe you designated a beneficiary some time ago but have since lost faith in their ability to make the most of it or manage your estate and assets responsibly. Sometimes, folks who have observed their beneficiary’s life choices and circumstances (like substance abuse, problems with creditors, marital challenges, or criminal histories) have a change of heart. If you’re concerned that your beneficiary may not manage your estate or their inheritance the way you’d like, it's one of the reasons to change your will.
Contemplating a Divorce
Divorce can make a significant impact on your estate, especially if the desires you had for your estate no longer reflect your current wishes. Changing your will in preparation for this event will safeguard your estate and prevent your loved ones from costly, time-consuming and stressful experiences during divorce proceedings.
Your Executor or Beneficiary Passes Away
If you named an executor or beneficiary of your will and they precede you in death, it’s crucial to revisit the details of your will. Failing to do so may put your surviving loved one’s inheritance in jeopardy, and they may not receive the inheritance you desire. Take time to adjust your beneficiaries to ensure your estate is cared for in a manner consistent with your wishes.
You’ve Misplaced Your Original Will
This one may seem obvious: If you can’t recall where you’ve placed this significant document, have misplaced it during a move or following a major life event, or you simply can’t remember the details of your will, contact your financial advisor or attorney and get peace of mind that everything is on the right track.
You “Strike It Rich”
It’s smart to update your will (or create your first will) if you win or inherit a large amount of money. With a big windfall, you may wish to earmark some of the inheritance to be managed in an investment portfolio with a goal to accumulate more or to preserve your newfound wealth. Perhaps, you have other desires such as gifting money to help pay for family members’ educations through 529 plans or setting up a donor-advised fund to support a cause you believe. Working with a financial advisor and a lawyer to plan your estate and assess your will are wise moves.
Need a Financial Advisor?
If you are currently looking for help with financial planning, contact us. We are happy to schedule an introductory meeting at your convenience.