Writing your will probably gave you a certain piece of mind. After all, you may have been hearing from different sources that having a will is essential for protecting your family and ensuring your estate gets to the right hands. Without a will, your loved ones may end up in disputes or even litigation, and this often leads to lifelong rifts within families.
Undoubtedly, writing your will was difficult. You had to carefully consider how life would go on after you passed away. You may also have weighed the need and level of responsibility of each of your heirs to provide an equitable distribution of your assets. It may have been an emotionally draining experience that you do not want to repeat. Unfortunately, failing to revisit your will from time to time may leave your loved ones no better off than if you had left no will at all.
When is it time to take another look?
A regular review of your will is a smart idea. Some people take time at the end of each year, on their birthdays or at some other significant time to read over their documents or meet with their attorneys to see if there are ways to close gaps or if more appropriate estate planning tools available. However, following a major life event, it is wise to check to see if your will needs revision. Some of those life events include the following:
- Your family grows: Have you had or adopted children since you drafted your will? Do you now have grandchildren or have you reunited with other relatives that you now want included in your estate plan?
- You leave the state: If you have moved into or out of Illinois since writing your will, be sure your will complies with the estate planning laws in your new state.
- Your situation changes: Have you inherited a large sum or experienced unexpected success with your business or investments? Perhaps you want to re-evaluate the division of your assets or even establish a trust.
- You lose your spouse: Whether through death or divorce, the loss of your spouse may leave your assets precariously provided for. Reviewing your will after such an event is a wise move.
It is also possible that you simply change your mind about some of your bequests. Your relationship with some heirs may wane, and you may want to alter your beneficiary designations. Perhaps you now want some of your wealth to go to a charitable cause instead of to your children who may have little need for your assets. Whatever your circumstances, it is a good practice to revisit your estate plan often as years pass and seek advice about the best options for your current circumstances.