If you wrote your will recently or a few years ago, it is understandable to forget about it. Experts recommend revisiting your will at least every three or five years. Some may need to review it more often. After finding out how often you should update or review your will, talk to the Encino living trust attorneys at Ourfalian & Ourfalian.
When Should You Review Your Will?
It is essential to review and update your will every few years. This is because everyone experiences life changes once in a while that can affect your estate plan. Here are some life changes you should consider updating your will for when they occur. At the least, have your estate planning attorney review the will at least every three years.
Starting A New Relationship
Marriage may cancel any will made by either spouse before the marriage was formalized. An exception is if the will was written in contemplation of marriage.
Many people who are newly married and already have a will may want to name the new partner as an estate beneficiary. So, you should update your will and estate plan after marriage or if you participate in a new common-law partnership.
It is commonly misunderstood that your assets will go to your spouse automatically if you pass away. However, if you fail to document your updated wishes in your will, the state of California will dictate how the assets are distributed. If they are not named in your will, your partner could be excluded from receiving their inheritance. Most people do not want the state government to decide who gets what of their assets. So, be sure to regularly check and update your will.
Raising A Family
Reviewing and updating the will is also vital when you have a child. It should be a top issue to name a guardian in your will to take care of minor children if something happens to you. While rare, you and your partner could pass away simultaneously, so having a guardian named is essential.
Beneficiary Or Dependent Is Disabled
Parents with a child with a disability may need to make the necessary updates to their will to reflect the current interests of that individual. It may be advisable to review the will with your estate planning lawyer to see how it could affect your child’s eligibility for government programs. Instead of leaving your assets to a child with a disability, it may be preferable to set up a living trust (see further below).
Death Of A Spouse
If your spouse or partner passes away, it is usually necessary to update your will. For example, legal documents will need updating if your deceased partner was named an executor or beneficiary.
Your goals in your estate plan may change if you stop working. This gives you another chance to go over your will and estate plan. For example, could you lower your probate and tax costs when you pass away? Are all your beneficiaries up to date and accurate?
Change To Your Financial Situation
Many couples find that mid-life is an ideal time to review their will. You may be entering or exiting your prime earning years, so your will should reflect your current situation. Think about how your family will go on if you suddenly pass away or become incapacitated.
Also, if your financial situation, your will should be changed. For example, if your net worth is much higher than it was, there could be better tax planning strategies you should consider. Or, if you have sold some of your real estate assets, your will may need to be changed.
You May Want To Consider A Living Will
Another reason to review your will is to change how your beneficiaries receive their inheritance. If you have financially irresponsible beneficiaries, consider setting up a living trust. The trust serves as the beneficiary of the asset. It holds the assets for your children, and legal documents create the legal entity.
If you create a living trust, the named assets go to the trust and not directly to your heirs. They only receive money according to how the trust gives it to them. Setting up a trust also may be wise if you have a child with a mental disability. This ensures your child will receive their inheritance, but there is a legal process in place to oversee how the money is distributed.
Can You Make Handwritten Changes To A Will?
Yes, but you should implement all will changes correctly, or they could be invalid. Wills that have been changed by hand are more likely to be contested, which raises legal costs. This is because it may be hard for your lawyer and beneficiaries to know when the will was updated. Also, who made the change and when may need to be clarified. If not, the beneficiary could argue you made a handwritten change when you were not of sound mind
If someone challenges a handwritten change to the will, the executor must show that you made the changes intentionally. If updates to your will are not signed and formalized appropriately, it could cause issues and conflicts between heirs. Fortunately, many simple will changes are relatively inexpensive to have done.
Contact Encino Living Trust Attorneys
It is essential to set up a will so there is a clear plan for how your assets should be distributed at the end of life. However, your will should be considered a living document and should be reviewed regularly. Encino living trust attorneys Ourfalian & Ourfalian can assist you with your will and ensure it reflects your current wishes.
Our attorneys handle estate and will cases in Encino, Alhambra, Arcadia, Burbank, Glendale, El Monte, Granada Hills, Los Angeles, Monterey Park, North Hollywood, Pasadena, Van Nuys, and other communities in Southern California and the San Fernando Valley. Please contact our Encino estate planning attorneys for a complimentary consultation about your will at (818) 550-7777.