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When circumstances change, you should update your estate plan

Planning an estate or creating a legally sound last will is a process. Although some people put it off for years, it is wise for anyone who has substantial assets, a dependent spouse or children to create an estate plan and last will as soon as possible. Doing so helps ensure that your loved ones and dependents will have access to resources after your passing. It also safeguards your possessions to go to the people you'd like to have them.

One reason that people put off creating their last will is because they know that their situation is going to change in the future. Life has a way of being completely unpredictable. You may think your family is the perfect size, and then you find yourself expecting a new child. That doesn't mean you should put the people in your life at risk by not creating a plan for your passing. Thankfully, the nature of a last will and estate plan allows you to make updates and changes as necessary.

Updating your estate plan ensures validity

The more outdated your last will or estate plan is, the easier it will be for a family member or heir to contest the contents of your last will or estate. After all, if your will includes heirs who have died or omits newer members to your family, that's a sign that your last will is inaccurate or incomplete.

A last will created initially some time ago that you continued to carefully revise and update over the years may hold up better in court. It will show that you took care in creating your estate plan or last will and made every effort to ensure it was up-to-date and accurate. The courts will likely take notice of that extra effort if your estate ends up challenged and in court.

Situations in which updating your will makes sense

There are countless situations which could necessitate an update to your will. Generally speaking, any time you acquire (or lose) substantial updates, your will should be updated. The same is true for when your pool of heirs increases or decreases.

Common reasons people update their wills:

  • Getting married, remarried or divorced
  • Losing a spouse, sibling, child or grandchild
  • A medical diagnosis that requires advance medical directives
  • Ensuring a special needs relative has resources
  • Creating a care provision for a pet or service animal

There are many other reasons why you may need to revisit your will. Perhaps you've had a falling out with a family member and wish to remove him or her from your list of beneficiaries. Maybe you've been working with a charity and want to leave something to that cause. Whatever your reason, updating your estate plan or last will in a timely manner can provide you with peace of mind.

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