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What are some life events that trigger updating my will?

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Updating your will is essential to ensure that it accurately reflects your wishes, especially when significant life events occur. Here are some common life events that may trigger the need to update your will:

  1. Marriage or Remarriage: When you get married or remarried, you may want to revise your will to include your new spouse as a beneficiary. You might also want to update other provisions, such as appointing your spouse as the executor or trustee.
  1. Divorce or Separation: After a divorce or legal separation, you may want to remove your former spouse as a beneficiary, executor, or trustee in your will. Additionally, you may need to reconsider arrangements for any children you share with your ex-spouse.
  1. Birth or Adoption: The birth or adoption of a child is a significant event that often prompts changes to your will. You’ll want to name guardians for your minor children and ensure they are provided for in your estate plan.
  1. Death of a Beneficiary: If a beneficiary named in your will passes away, you may need to update your will to specify new beneficiaries or revise the distribution of assets.
  1. Changes in Financial Situation: Significant changes in your financial situation, such as receiving a substantial inheritance, selling or acquiring valuable assets, or experiencing a significant change in income, may necessitate adjustments to your will to reflect your new financial circumstances.
  1. Relocation: Moving to a different state or country can affect the validity and interpretation of your will. Estate planning laws vary, so you may need to update your will to comply with the laws of your new jurisdiction.
  1. Changes in Personal Representatives: If the person you appointed as the executor or trustee is no longer suitable or available to fulfill that role, you should designate a new individual or institution.
  1. New Business Ventures: If you start a new business or have a significant change in your business interests, you might need to update your will to address how your business assets should be handled in your estate plan.
  1. Health Changes: If your health deteriorates, you may want to make changes to your healthcare directives, living will, or power of attorney documents to ensure that your wishes regarding medical decisions and care are up to date.
  1. Beneficiary Changes: Changes in your relationships with beneficiaries, such as falling out with a family member or developing new meaningful relationships, may lead you to reevaluate who should inherit your assets.
  1. Tax Law Changes: Changes in tax laws can impact the way your estate is taxed. Keeping your will and estate plan up to date can help ensure that you take advantage of any new tax-saving strategies.
  1. Charitable Giving: If you want to include charitable donations in your estate plan or change the charitable organizations you support, you should update your will accordingly.

It’s essential to periodically review your will and estate plan, even in the absence of major life events, to ensure they continue to align with your wishes and current laws. Consulting with an estate planning attorney is advisable when making changes to your will to ensure that your modifications are legally sound and do not inadvertently create conflicts or issues.

The law office of elder law attorney Scott C. Painter, P.C., is located in Wyomissing (outside of Reading, PA, in Berks County,) and offers trusted legal services in the areas of elder law, including nursing home planning, trust and estate services, and veterans benefits. Scott C. Painter is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA®), and he is also a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).
If you have an issue or question, we encourage you to call us. With legal matters, time is of the essence. Call us for a consultation at 610-378-5140. The $300 consultation fee is waived if Attorney Painter is retained to perform services.