How Often Should I Update My Will?  header image

How Often Should I Update My Will?

A will is many things. It’s a way to transfer assets and to name a guardian for children. It’s a way to help ensure your wishes are carried out, and that your loved ones are cared for after you’re gone. But we know this legal document can be difficult to start — let alone update or amend. As your life changes, you will need to update your will.

1. When You Get Married or Divorced

If something should happen before updating your will, your spouse may not be the beneficiary and could end up with less as a result. On the flip side, if you’re divorced, your ex-spouse could end up with more than you intended.

2. When You Have Children

When children arrive, you’re taking on a whole new level of responsibility. Update your will to name a guardian for your children in case you can no longer care for them. An updated will can also help ensure they’re financially secure should something happen to you.

3. When You Buy or Sell Your Home

If your home is included in your will as an asset to be bequeathed to a friend or relative, and then you sell that home and buy another, you’ll need to update your will to reflect the new property’s address. The language used in most wills states that you’re giving your home located at a specific address to a specific person. You’ll want to make sure the property listed in the will is the most current.

4. When You Move to a Different State

If your will was written in a different state, consult an attorney in your new location to confirm that the document is still valid. State laws vary, and you shouldn’t assume your will meets your new state’s regulations.

5. When Your Income Changes Significantly

If you inherit a large sum of money, you may choose to distribute your estate differently. You may also consider drafting a trust to help protect your estate from taxes, fees and mismanagement after you pass away.

On the other hand, if your financial situation takes a downturn, it can also impact how you choose to distribute your estate. In either case, talk to an attorney and an accountant for tax planning purposes.

6. When You Start a Business

As you do for other important assets, you’ll need to plan for the transition of a business — whether it’s well established or newly launched — in your estate. If your intentions for your business are not listed in your will, then state law could dictate where your company ends up. For many business owners, splitting a business between multiple beneficiaries isn’t ideal, which is why it’s important to update your will spelling out your wishes if you become a new business owner.  

7. When You Update Your Executor

Many people often choose a trusted friend or family member to act as executor of their will, but life happens and things change, so the person you selected when you first drafted your will might no longer be your first choice. If you’d like to name a new executor, that’s a prime reason to update your will. Remember, the executor of your estate must be 18 years of age or older and of sound mind.  

8. When Tax Laws Change

State and federal tax laws are always changing, so you’ll want to be aware of how these changes could impact your estate plan. Stay up to date on any changes, and regularly consult your attorney to ensure that your will is not affected.

Helping You Keep Your Promises

If you want help protecting the things that matter most to you, talk to your local Farm Bureau agent. We can help you develop a plan that works, no matter your stage in life.

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