Creating a will and designating beneficiaries isn’t a task many people look forward to. It forces a person to contemplate their own mortality and can involve time-consuming, difficult decisions. Despite the fact that it isn’t often the most enjoyable task, many people do recognize the importance of having a will. However, once an individual has had a will drawn up, it is all too common for the will to be shoved to the farthest recesses of the mind and rarely, if ever, thought of again.
Unfortunately, wills are not a one-time ordeal; wills are more of a routine chore. Taking a fresh look at and updating your will needs to be a regular maintenance task, similar to getting the oil changed in your car. Plainly put, the will you create today will probably not be applicable to your life five years down the road. In fact, depending on your particular circumstances, the will you create today may not be applicable to your life one year from now.
If you do not bother updating your will, at the end of your life, you may end up leaving assets to individuals who are no longer important to you. Some loved ones, who you do wish to provide for, may end up being left out entirely. So, how often should you dust off the will and update it? The answer to that question differs from person to person; however, according to the article “When Should You Redo Your Will” by Deborah L. Jacobs for Forbes, you should revisit the document at least once every five years. If any of the following circumstances apply to you, you should take another look at your will as soon as possible:
- You acquired a new asset
- You lost an asset
- You got divorced (or otherwise lost a spouse)
- You got married
- You had a child (or grandchild)
- You are in serious ill health
- Someone mentioned in your will passed away or (for whatever reason) is no longer in your life
- There has been a change in the estate laws. (This is where having a knowledgeable attorney is important as he or she will be able to keep you up-to-date on the latest law changes.)
Keeping your will updated is vital to the well-being of your loved ones should something bad happen to you. While it may be an unpleasant task, it’s one chore that shouldn’t be put off. Remind yourself that doing it is for the overall health of your family and loved ones.