Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Friday, April 12, 2019

How Often Should I Update My Will?

Despite often proving difficult to think about what happens after we pass away, writing a legal will and other estate planning documents are extremely important. While it may be nice to have a will in place, as things change throughout our lives, and we evolve, so should our will and documents. 

It is not uncommon for life events such as marriage, births to occur. By updating your will, you ensure that your final goals and objectives are met – especially so that your loved ones are taken care of as you wish after you die. 

In order to ensure that this is so, it is recommended that you review your will with an estate-planning attorney after every major life occurrence. These events include:

  • Getting married
  • Getting divorced
  • Having a child
  • Having a grandchild
  • Experiencing a significant change to your financial situation

Marriage or Divorce


It is important to take a look at your will if you are getting married – especially if this is your second marriage. Unless otherwise specified, your new spouse may receive more of your estate than intended. 

For those who get divorced, a divorce will have a significant impact on your will. It revokes all gifts made to your former spouse and to his or her relatives (other than those relatives you share, such as children or grandchildren.)

Having Children or Grandchildren

The birth of second child onward may not necessitate a review of your will if you already have it in place. However, regarding the birth of a first child, it is important to at least update your will in order to authorize a guardian to raise your minor child should anything impede you or your spouse from the ability to do so. It is also smart to make financial provisions for the child. 

Experiencing Significant Changes to Your Financial Situation

Both positive, as well as negative changes to your net worth and/or assets, would be a good reason for you to revisit your will and any other estate planning documents. An example of a significant change would include the purchase or sale of a house or business. 

Regularly for Tax Changes


Even if your family and financial situations have not changed, it is good practice to review your will and any other estate planning documents every three to five years in order to ensure that there have not been any changes in federal estate or gift tax laws or Arkansas trust and probate law that would have an impact on your will and therefore make it smart to revise it. 

Remember When Updating Your Will

In Arkansas, when you update or revise a will, these changes must be made with consideration of the rules necessary to ensure that it remains legally valid. Things such as writing in the margins of the will or crossing out certain details can make it invalid. 

Additionally, it may be necessary to have an individual serve as a witness to all of the changes that have been made.  This is for your protection, to ensure that all changes have been made by you rather than another person who is attempting to benefit after you have passed. 

 


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