If you have a will, you are ahead of the curve. Estimates vary, but the general consensus seems to be that only around 30 to 50 percent of Americans have gone through the process of preparing an estate plan. Having a will is important for numerous reasons, including ensuring respect for your final wishes, tax and financial planning, and saving your family from the confusion and uncertainty that invariably follow when someone dies without a will.
However, having a will is just the start. Failing to update your will can create issues as well – and may even lead to gifts and bequests that do not align with your original intentions. As a result, it is a good idea to periodically revisit your will.
Here are five common reasons why someone might want to change their last will and testament.
Changes Regarding Financial Circumstances
If you have recently come into money as a result of a favorable investment, business growth, a gift, or any other reason, now is probably a good time to revisit your will. You will want to decide who will benefit from your good fortune in your absence, and significant windfalls can have significant tax implications as well. It might also be time to consider establishing a trust or using other estate planning vehicles to manage your wealth.
Likewise, if you have suffered a financial setback, it may make sense to revisit your estate plan and see if there are any new tax benefits that may be available.
Changes Regarding Where You Live
If you have moved across state lines, your new home may be subject to different estate tax and property laws than those that applied when you originally drafted your will.
Changes Regarding Your Marriage
Marriage and divorce are two more good reasons to revise your estate plan. Likewise, if your spouse has recently passed, it probably makes sense to revisit your beneficiary designations. For many people, their spouse is their primary beneficiary. If you are newly married or your spouse is no longer with you, now is an important time to update your will.
Changes Regarding Children, Grandchildren, or Other Family Members
If you have recently become a parent or grandparent, or if there have been other changes in your immediate or extended family, you definitely want to take a fresh look at your estate plan. Along with the distribution of your assets, you will also want to consider guardianship rights and other child-related issues.
Changes Regarding Your Wishes
Finally, if other circumstances that affected what you put in your will have changed; or, if you’ve simply had a change of heart, these are important reasons to revise your will as well. Remember, your will is your chance to ensure respect for your final wishes. If those wishes have changed, they will be ignored – by law – unless you put them in your will.
Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney in Jacksonville, FL
Estate planning requires a thorough evaluation of your family and financial circumstances and careful attention to detail. Our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience helping Florida residents prepare and revise their wills. To speak with a lawyer about your estate plan, contact the Jacksonville, FL law firm of Beller & Bustamante, P.L. today.