These days, caring for the needs of the people who depend on you requires careful planning and attention to detail. It is wise to take the time to create a will and estate plan that addresses these issues as soon as you can, because none of us are guaranteed another day, let alone another year or two, even in the best circumstances.
If you created a will some time ago, it is a good idea to look over it carefully and make sure that all of the will's provisions match your wishes and the needs of the people you care for deeply. If you don't update your will and estate plan when you experience significant life changes, the probate process may make your loved ones wait for many months before they receive a dispersal from your estate.
While this is at least an annoyance for many beneficiaries, it can be disastrous if your loved ones depend on your provisions for their care. Some careful attention to your estate plan and will can keep your loved ones' needs met when you pass away and ensure that your wishes receive the respect they deserve.
When to update your will
Several life events make it necessary to update your will. In broad terms, it is always a good idea to look over your will for potential changes any time that you gain a family member or beneficiary, or any time that you lose a family member or beneficiary. This includes marriages, divorces, deaths and adoption. It is also important to update your will and estate plan if you have a child grow into adulthood, but may require some special attention if your adult child still requires some assistance.
It is wise to update your will any time that your assets or liabilities increase greatly or decrease greatly. What this means to each person differs, but the more detailed and accurate your will and estate plan are when they describe your estate, the less room there is for one party or another to raise a challenge.
Lastly, your will and estate plan must reflect current laws in order to be maximally effective. If you don't experience any of the life changes mentioned earlier over a four-year period of time, you should still look over your documents and see if any estate planning laws changed recently that may impact your plan and your wishes for dispersing your estate.
Protect your wishes and the ones you love
Taking the time to address these issues when there is no immediate crisis may seem like a waste of time, but now is the time that you want to take care of any complications — before they become major issues for the people you love.
With some attention to detail, you can rest assured that your loved ones have the care they need after you are gone, allowing you freedom to enjoy the precious time that you have with them now, protecting your rights and wishes in the future.