Writing your will is an important part of creating an estate plan, but it’s not the end of your planning journey. Once you create your will, it’s a good idea to check in regularly with a will attorney in Orange County to make any updates and ensure that your will is still in good legal standing.
Major life changes can affect the terms and contents of your will. However, these updates don’t happen automatically as your life changes. Instead, you’ll need to have them made formally with your estate planning attorney in order to keep your will relevant to your wishes.
How Wills Become Useless?
Here are some of the main ways your will can become out-of-date and irrelevant. At worst, it could even render your will invalid. Keep reading to see the importance of maintaining your will as your life changes!
1. You Have Gotten Married or Divorced
Marriage and divorce are some of the biggest changes a person can experience. They’ll also affect the people you want to include in your will. Generally, your will reflects your marriage or lack of one. However, after a marriage or a divorce, you’ll be facing lots of important legal paperwork. It’s important not to overlook alterations to your will.
Inheritance laws prioritize spouses, so it’s possible that your new spouse will inherit assets even if you don’t update your will. However, relying upon this fact doesn’t give you any control over which assets your spouse will receive, and it can make the process much slower.
After a divorce, the assets in your name and beneficiaries on your list are likely to change dramatically. Experts tend to recommend revoking your will and creating an entirely new one.
If you don’t update your will, an ex-spouse still listed as a beneficiary could inherit items from your estate. In other cases, those assets will be automatically redirected to another beneficiary. However, that may not be the person you want to inherit those items.
Marriage and divorce can shake up your personal life, so make sure to put a will update on your to-do list after you go through one of these events!
2. Your Beneficiaries Have Changed
Over time, the beneficiaries you want to feature in your will are likely to change. As people come and go for the rest of your life, you may want to remove them or add them into your will.
One common reason to remove beneficiaries is death. If your beneficiaries are no longer alive, you’ll need to remove them from your will. If all beneficiaries listed in your will are dead, it will be invalid for the simple reason that the people listed cannot inherit your assets.
On the other hand, you may also want to add new additions to your family. This may include people who are now related by marriage or newborns. It might also include new family friends. However, to do so, you’ll need to formally alter your will. Otherwise, these new would-be beneficiaries could be left out of your will despite your wishes.
If your will is very out-of-date, someone may end up contesting it, rendering all your careful planning moot.
3. The Property You Own Has Changed
Over time, you may sell and acquire property. If your will lists real estate, cars, or any other assets no longer owned by you, that could present problems. Similarly, a property can slip through the cracks if not listed in your will or elsewhere in your estate plan.
If items aren’t included in your estate plan, they’ll need to go to a probate court, incurring legal fees, taxes, and more. They’ll also likely only go to family members, as determined by inheritance law. You won’t have control over who receives them.
When your will includes property that isn’t currently in your possession, it may be invalid. When you make major financial changes, your estate planning lawyer should be on your list of people to notify and meet with. If you sell a business, for example, your beneficiaries will no longer inherit it.
It’s important to keep things as clear as possible in your will so they can move seamlessly through the legal system and be carried out without issues.
4. New Laws Governing Wills
Over the years, laws concerning wills are constantly changing in both minor and major ways. These changes are impossible to predict and difficult for most laypeople to understand. That’s why it’s important to have a reliable, qualified attorney in mind to handle your estate planning.
An estate planning lawyer can pinpoint areas of your will that may be rendered irrelevant or ineffective according to new laws. It’s essential to stay in touch with the evolution of estate law, which is why experts recommend checking in with your attorney regularly.
As tax laws change, for example, you may need a new strategy to maximize tax savings and protect your assets so your beneficiaries can benefit.
5. An Unavailable Executor
When you create a will, you need to choose an executor to carry out the plans listed within. The executor has many responsibilities and should be a person you trust, whether a family member or hired professional.
If that person does or otherwise becomes unavailable, such as retirement, then you’ll need to name a new executor. If you don’t choose one yourself, the state will assign one for you. While they always choose qualified executors, the person they choose may not have been your first choice.
To prevent mishaps like this, it’s important to check in on your executor every now and then and make sure that everything in your will is airtight. With a little maintenance, you can keep your will relevant to your life and reflective of your wishes.
Partner with a Law Professional to Keep Your Wills Updated
McKenzie Legal & Financial offers expert legal services concerning estate planning and other areas of law.
To get assistance from an estate planning lawyer in Orange County, our team of professionals will help you schedule a consultation to discuss your legal concerns and determine if we’re the best fit for your legal needs!
Contact us at 562-526-6941 at McKenzie Legal & Financial today!