When to Review Your Will?

A big reason why estate planning attorneys encourage you to create your estate plan early is to plan for the present knowing that you have the ability to adapt that existing plan to address new information like a marriage, a new child, or the gaining of new assets.  Once created, adapting your plan simply requires reviewing it and adding new instructions and revisions as needed.

It’s a good idea to review your plan and any legal documents associated with your estate plan on a regular basis, usually every three to five years. Estate planning works best when the task gets treated like maintaining a personal vehicle; right now it might be running fine, but in a few months it may need an oil change.

last will and testament

Life happens, and it frequently leads to changes in personal circumstances. And because it does, it’s always a good idea to update your will on a regular basis.

Changing Relationships

Think about the number of life changes a person can experience in three to five years. There can be marriages, divorces, births, deaths, new friendships, and the loss of old relationships. Look around your immediate family and friends. Think about how many have gotten engaged, are expecting a baby, or starting dating a new special someone. Perhaps your grandparent or other loved one has been diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Relationships are the cornerstone of your world and thinking about your wishes and dreams for yourself and them is important.

A review of your estate plan, including your will, may reveal some directions that need to be amended. For example, if  you had planned to leave your estate to your parents, but now you have married the love of your life, you will likely want to update your will to include your spouse. If you became a grandparent since the estate plan’s creation, you may want to assign something to the new grandchild in your will. For instance, a small inheritance to help pay for college perhaps?

Location/Living Changes

You were at a certain point in your life when you initially created your estate plan. Five years later, your life has changed. Maybe you won the lottery and now possess more assets than you did back then. Or maybe your employment changed and you moved to a new location in a different state. Both situations require your will to be updated, but for two different reasons.
First, whether you lost or gained assets, any change needs to be addressed in your will. If the powerboat you willed to your cousin was destroyed in a fire, the will has to be amended to reflect that. Or maybe you bought a second home and want to give that asset to a sibling upon your passing. Any change in asset status should be recorded and planned accordingly.
Moving out of state might invoke a change in probate rules or inheritance laws. Even moving to the next-door state could result in huge changes to those considerations, so if your will was created in New York and you moved to Pennsylvania, don’t take it for granted that all the same laws apply. Check with an experienced estate planning attorney like Dan Hill of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to make sure your will is reflective of your current situation and in keeping with Pennsylvania inheritance laws.

How To Amend Your Will

Obviously working with an estate planning lawyer never hurts with estate planning, but you should take some time to review the will by yourself first before you meet. Check the names of all the named parties involved, from the heirs to the executors. Make sure all parties you want included have been listed and consider individual changes, like adding your grandchildren or eliminating a beneficiary that may have passed away. Think about how the lives of your beneficiaries have changed since you wrote the will, and how those changes could impact your final wishes.

Remember to take your time when considering the possible changes to your will. And when you’ve finished, sit down with your  attorney to make those amendments to your will. If  you’re in need of a good Johnstown attorney to create or update your will, contact The Hill Group LLC today.