When should I update my will?

Creating a will takes time and effort. You have to think through who you will give your assets to and choose who will serve as your children’s guardian and your estate executor. Once you have a will, you may think you don’t need to revisit it – well, at least not for decades.

When it’s time to revisit your estate plan

However, after certain life changes, you may want to update your will. These situations include the following:

  1. You divorce your spouse. You most likely don’t want your ex to receive the bulk of your assets, so you’ll need to update your will’s beneficiaries.
  2. You get remarried. You may want to ensure your children from your first marriage receive some of your assets if you pass away. If you don’t update your will, nearly all your assets could go toward your new spouse.
  3. You have grandchildren and want to specify what assets they will receive when you pass away.
  4. One of your children develops a substance abuse problem. Addiction is a difficult disease, in which those who struggle with substance abuse often make poor money decisions. If one of your children has trouble overcoming their addiction, you may not want to have them blow their inheritance on drugs and alcohol.
  5. One of your beneficiaries dies, or your executor passes away.
  6. You move to a new state. Every state has its own estate law rules, so if you move, you want to make sure to update your will accordingly.
  7. Your financial situation has changed drastically. Maybe you inherited a lot of money when your parents died. Or your home is no longer worth what it once was. You may want to update your will to distribute your assets differently based on your current financial situation.

Once you enter retirement, you should review your will and estate plan with your estate planning attorney about every five years. You want to make sure that if you come down with a sudden illness or unexpectedly pass away, your will is up to date, as well as your other documents that outline your care and end-of-life wishes.