If you want to control your legacy after you're gone, keeping your will up to date is of the utmost importance. A lot can change in your life in the course of a few years, so taking a look at your heirs, beneficiaries and your other estate wishes from time to time is a great idea.
There are some specific life changes that could affect your estate plan:
- If you get married, both you and your new spouse will want to examine your estate plan and add one another or change percentages.
- On the other side of that coin is divorce. You may want to take your ex and any associated family members out of the will entirely.
- Having a baby is another great reason to make changes. You'll want to add the baby to the will and perhaps appoint a guardian who will look after your child if something happens to you.
- If you either gain or lose properties or assets, you'll want to make sure you account for those changes in the will. For instance, if you left a home to an heir but no longer own it, you'll want to take it out of the will.
Stepchildren aren't given a share of your property and assets automatically. If you marry someone who already has children, you may want to decide who will inherit and how much you'll leave.
When you change a will, you'll have to revoke the old one or add a codicil, which is essentially an amendment to the current will. The laws vary from state to state, so it may be wise to check with an attorney and ensure your wishes are carried out properly.