Top Reasons to Revise Your Will

Perhaps you, like many others, believe that once your will has been drawn up, that’s the end of the process. While wills have never been anyone’s idea of fun, it’s important to review your will on a regular basis. There are many reasons to pull out your will and give it a thorough review.

Most common reasons to Revise Your Will

1. New family members. In general, if a will is worded properly, any children that are born after the will has been signed will be entitled to the same share of the estate as the pre-existing children. Even so, if you have a new child, check with your attorney just to be sure everything is worded according to your wishes.

* Also consider how your wishes might change based on other new people in your life. What if you re-connect with a family member? What if you make a new best friend? Maybe one of them would be the person to take good care of your boat when you’re gone. Consider all new people who’ve entered your life since you signed your will.

2. Moving. States have different laws regarding estate taxes and how property is treated. So if you move from one state to another, there may be some major issues that need to be examined. Consult your attorney anytime you move to a new state as this can have significant ramifications.

3. A windfall. A large increase in your wealth may require another look at your will. Again, this depends on your state. Some states have monetary limits for certain types of inheritance items. Creating a trust might be the right move for you now.

* With your new wealth, you may also have a greater degree of flexibility to take advantage of certain tax shelters. And you might be considering being more generous regarding who’s included in your will.

4. Divorce. Most of us aren’t interested in leaving anything to our ex-spouses. If you’ve gotten divorced since your will was drawn up, it’s time to talk to your attorney. A proper and thorough revision will reduce the likelihood of the will being contested. Consider the fact that if you don’t change this document, your ex could end up with everything!

5. Death. If your spouse or only child passes away, your will should undergo a thorough review. This event may radically change how you wish to distribute your assets. Back-up recipients are usually specified within a will, but it never hurts to take another look.

6. Change of heart. Most wills are drafted by people who are still quite young. As you age, however, your wishes may change. Maybe you were very close to your brother at one point, but haven’t spoken to him in the last five years.

* Additionally, as some people age, they become more involved with charitable organizations. Maybe you’ll have the desire to include such a group in your will.

Your will we most likely not be a static document throughout your life. As your circumstances, family, and social connections change, some modifications will likely need to be made.

Review the list above and note if any of these items have occurred since your will was completed. If so, schedule some time with your attorney today. In this case, more than in many others, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Write Your Own Will

Legal fees are expensive and you might not want to invest hundreds of dollars to have your will created by a professional. Depending on your situation, it might be appropriate to write your own will. In the event you own property, have a large family, or possess considerable wealth, you’ll definitely want to contact a lawyer to help compose your will.

If you choose to write your own will, include the following sections:

1. Declarations page. The declarations page includes your name, birth date, and legal address. Feel free to be specific and descriptive about yourself on this page so that readers know that “it’s really you” who wrote the document.

* Also on this page, it’s necessary to state you’re over the age of 18 and “of sound mind.”

* You’ll want to add that no one is forcing you in any way to make your will and that you’re doing it of your own free will.

* It’s wise to say that you’re “revoking” any prior wills and codicils (such as attachments to wills) and that the current will is your “last.”

2. Executor page. Next, you’ll want to designate who you want to manage your affairs in the event of your death. Married people usually designate their partners to be their executors.

* The key in selecting the executor is that it be someone who is knowledgeable about your affairs.

* Speak to whomever you plan to name as your executor in advance. The person selected will hopefully be comfortable with your naming him.

* Also, it’s wise to appoint an “alternate” executor. State that in the event your executor is unable or unwilling to serve in the role, you want the alternate to step in and assume the position.

3. Guardian page. If you have children younger than age 18 or dependents with special needs who are unable to care for themselves even though they’re over 18, it will be necessary to appoint a guardian to take care of them in the event of your death. As you might suspect, it’s integral you discuss this issue at length with the person you have in mind.

4. Beneficiaries page. This section of the will is where you list all of your beneficiaries by full name, relationship to you and their legal addresses at the time of the will’s composition, in addition to what you want to will to each person. Be specific about what you plan to leave to each beneficiary.

5. Burial and funeral page. Specify here whether you prefer to be buried (and where) or cremated. Also, you might include your preferences for your funeral, such as open or closed casket, no public funeral, private service only, and the like.

6. Signatures page. Although you’re nearly done with your will, this page is quite important as it verifies and validates your document.

* Not only does it include your signature, full name and address at the time of the will’s composition, it denotes that same information for those witnessing your signature. In most states, two witnesses’ signatures are all you need. However, ensure you check your state’s requirements when it comes to witnesses before completing this part of your will.

* The page needs to state that the witnesses actually witnessed your signing of the document. Include the date and where they were at the time of their signing.

If you’ve included provisions that your family should see right away when you die, like your wishes for your funeral, keep a copy of it in your home and let your loved ones know where to find it. A will locked away in a safety deposit box will be of no immediate help to your loved ones, since they would be unable to access the box’s contents immediately upon your death.

Depending on the laws in your state, parts of your will could be overruled based on what you included in your document, so it’s important to become familiar with and comply with the laws in your state regarding passing on your estate.

If you have questions about writing your will or possess considerable wealth or property, contact an attorney to obtain legal advice so that your wishes can be legally documented in the proper form for your state.