How often should I review my will?
April 18, 2019
Most people’s family dynamics and financial situations change dramatically over time. Therefore, it’s likely your estate arrangements will have to be updated at some point.
Fortunately, you can update your will as often as you’d like. To ensure everything is in order, it’s a good idea to review your estate plan once each year, even if the prior 12 months were fairly uneventful. This will ensure all critical documents are current if something were to happen. At the end of the day, dying with an outdated will could complicate probate far more than dying without ever having created one in the first place.
Below, we’ve answered a few frequently asked questions about modifying the terms of a will:
1. What changes in circumstances warrant a review of my estate plan?
It’s wise to review your will and make any necessary modifications after you:
- Get married or divorced
- Have children
- Buy or sell real estate
- Start or sell a small business
- Receive an inheritance
2. How do I update my will?
There are two ways to update a will: You can either create an entirely new document or make a codicil to the existing one. Either approach will typically require your signature in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign.
Creating a new will is usually the best approach if you want to modify more than one set of terms or implement major changes to the document. Making a codicil, on the other hand, might be the right option if you only want to update a specific portion of the will. A codicil is a written statement that accompanies the will during probate and details any minor changes.
3. What if I fail to update my will before passing?
If you die without updating your will, the potential consequences depend on factors like state laws and will representatives. It’s possible your surviving loved ones will face additional challenges when settling your estate.
Each state has laws dictating what happens under certain circumstances when a person dies without updating his or her will, but these laws don’t address every scenario. For example, in the state of Indiana, ex-spouses are automatically removed from wills; however, this only applies to their beneficiary status.
In other words, if your ex-spouse is listed as the personal representative of your estate, he or she may still be responsible for serving in that role even after the divorce, unless you name someone else. Likewise, his or her family members — children from prior relationships, for example — may remain in your will unless you remove them.
Keeping your will up-to-date each year and after any major life changes can help you ensure your loved ones won’t have to face additional difficulties once you’re gone.
Speak with a Lafayette estate planning attorney.
If you need help creating an estate plan or updating any existing arrangements, turn to Ball Eggleston. Since 1950, we have been helping Indiana residents ensure their families will be protected and taken care of in the worst-case scenario. Call (765) 742‑9046 or use our online contact form to set up a consultation with an estate planning lawyer in Lafayette.
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Ball Eggleston — a Lafayette, Indiana law firm — is located at 201 Main Street, Suite 810 P.O. Box 1535 Lafayette, IN 47902. Contact Ball Eggleston by phone at (765) 742‑9046, by fax at (765) 742‑1966, or by email at email@example.com. For additional information, find Ball Eggleston online at ballegg.local.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.