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It’s recommended you update your will every three to five years or each time you have a major life event. These life events include a marriage, divorce, death, birth of a child, etc. If you’re in the “have it done but need to update it” camp, this article is for you! Estate planning lawyers hear all the time that people meant to update their will, but somehow never got around to it. If you die before updating your will, survivors could learn your will is out of date and that could create a world of problems for your grieving family. Families undergo all kinds of changes, and the changes need to be reflected in the will. 

A New Child Is Born Into Your Family

The way to avoid inheritance problems if you have more children after you write your will, is to keep your will up to date. Any time a family change occurs that will alter your beneficiaries, you should revise your will. You can either prepare a new will or add an amendment, called a codicil, to your existing will. A codicil is a formal supplement to your will and must conform to the same requirements. It must be written and then signed by you and witnessed. They need not be the same witnesses who signed the original will.

Changes During The Middle Of A Divorce

You can change your will or trust at any time, even in the middle of a divorce. However, once a divorce proceeding is commenced, both spouses are restricted from transferring assets or changing the designated beneficiary on retirement accounts. This restriction does not extend to the ability to change your last will and testament or other estate planning documents. Many people name their spouse as executor, power of attorney, and health care proxy, and a change in the marital status will likely change whom you want to serve. For example, if you are in the process of getting divorced, do you want your soon-to-be ex-spouse on all documents? You should consult with both your estate planning attorney and your matrimonial attorney to make sure you are making the right decision about the timing of changing your estate planning, the possible effect it may have on negotiations in your divorce, and the legal implications of waiting to make a change.

When Your Child Marries

You may have created your will when your child was an infant. Time has flown by and now he or she is getting married. Unfortunately, your child may also divorce in the future. If your child is a beneficiary, you pass away, assets are transferred, and later there’s a divorce, then there’s also a chance that inherited property may be claimed by your child’s spouse. This could be avoided through a prenuptial agreement that discusses this issue. If there is no such agreement, the assets you want for your child can go into a trust where he or she is the beneficiary. This should prevent a divorcing spouse from trying to get a share.

If There Are Problems With Your Beneficiary

Some types of assets can be titled with a named beneficiary — someone who is entitled to receive the assets directly after the death of the owner. Money left directly to a beneficiary is at risk of being attached by creditors if the beneficiary has problems with drugs or money. A trust amendment is a legal document changing one or more aspects of a revocable living trust — without revoking the entire structure. The goal of a living trust amendment is to help you make changes to beneficiaries, trustees, and provisions, or modify any conditions to the trust.

When New Laws Go Into Effect

Ask your estate planning attorney every few years, if there have been new laws that are relevant to your estate plan.

If You Receive A Large Inheritance

A tax basis can be important when deciding whether to make gifts now or transfer property at your death. This is because the tax basis of the person receiving the property depends on whether the transfer is by gift or at death. You will want to update your will so you can do efficient tax planning as part of your estate plan.

If You Lost Your Will

If for some reason you cannot find your will, you should have your estate planning attorney draw up a new will with language that revokes all prior wills.

Ask About Wills In Another Country If You Own Land Or Property In Outside Of The United States

Some countries have reciprocity with the United States. However, when transferring property to an heir in the U.S., you would need to have the will probated in another country and may need wills for both countries.

Adding A “No Contest” Clause

Making a will is often a sensitive subject. Will your beneficiaries be pleased with your bequests, or will they be disappointed with how you have chosen to distribute your assets? If families and friends are fighting, and you suspect your family may push back to any bequests to friends, consider adding a “No Contest” clause.

Your will is the only way to choose the person to administer your estate and distribute it according to your instructions. Make sure your will is always up to date.


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About Helmer Somers Law

Helmer Somers Law helps individuals and businesses navigate the complex system of rules that accompany all legal situations. We are licensed to practice in both Kentucky and Ohio and offers flexible, affordable payment terms for our services. We welcome the opportunity to earn your trust and become your lawyer for life! It’s a fact of life in the modern world. There comes a time for virtually every adult American when the services of a competent, dedicated lawyer are required. Circumstances such as divorce, bankruptcy, estate planning or an income tax audit demand that your rights be protected, and your long-term interests advocated for with diligence and perseverance. When you call Helmer & Somers Law, you can rest assured that they will be.

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