Revisiting Your Will After a Life Event

Whether it’s retirement, the birth of a grandchild, or the death of a loved one, any major life event should have you look at your will with fresh eyes. Oftentimes, people prepare their will, put it away, and never revisit the document. But life changes, and with each of these changes, you should revisit your will and testament. 

Retirement and new priorities

When you retire, you often gain perspective on your career and your future. It is not uncommon for people to enter retirement totally out-of-touch with their priorities when they were at the beginning of their careers. Revisiting your will is essential at this juncture in order to transition you into the next phase of your life with confidence. A fresh look at your will and testament will give you a better perspective on your past goals and their relevance to your current position in life. 

Life changes and so should your estate plan

You may have made your will many years ago and have since divorced or remarried. You may have inherited money, bought property, sold equity in a business or company. Whether it was one year ago, ten, twenty, or more, any time you have a major life event you need to revisit your will to ensure that it reflects your wishes. 

It’s Been Years Since You Last Reviewed or Updated Your Will

Laws and regulations change and, as you age, your health and the health of others who you care about change as well. No matter how prepared you were when you originally wrote your will, your relationships, your individual priorities, and the unexpected surprises of life influence how you want your estate to be distributed. If you reflect on the time that has passed since you prepared your will, it is important to make sure that your will and all other estate planning documents are up-to-date and that they still reflect your wishes.

Checklist of life events that indicate your will needs a second look:

  • The individuals you have named in the past are deceased.
  • New people should be named in your will (e.g. new spouse, birth, adoption).
  • Divorce or marriage.
  • Change in state laws. States change estate laws constantly and if you have since moved to a different state, you should not assume our will made in your prior state residence adheres to the laws of your current residence. In California, the laws change from year to year. 
  • Change in guardians, personal representatives, or trustees, etc.
  • Children named in the original will have reached the age of eighteen.
  • There has been a significant increase or decrease in the value of your estate (stocks, property, inheritance, etc.).
  • The acquisition or disposition of a significant asset.
  • Prior to reaching 70 1/2 years of age if you have an IRA, 401(k), or other qualified plans that require you to begin to take distributions at age 701/2, you should revisit your will. The named beneficiary that you designated has an irrevocable impact on both your and your beneficiary’s required distributions.
  • Every three to five years, you should review your documents regardless of your situation. The passage of time is reason enough to review.

Seek Advice From a Skilled and Knowledgeable Sonoma County Estate Planning Attorney

If you have any questions or concerns regarding when or how frequently you should update your estate planning documents, please feel free to contact The Law Offices of Bridget Mackay today by visiting our contact page to arrange a consultation. We serve communities in Sonoma and Marin counties.

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