Q&A: When Should I Rewrite My Will?


QUESTION: When should I rewrite my will?

ANSWER: It depends on what has changed in your life since it was first written. Keep reading to find out some of the most common times when revision is either a good idea or even necessary.

First things first: congratulations on having a Will because the majority of American adults do not. But now that you've had that document in place for a bit ... perhaps some things in your life have changed and you're wondering if it's time to rewrite your Will.

Here are the eight most common reasons that it might be a good time to review your Will if you've experienced any of the following changes:

  • Finances: if your financial situation has seriously improved, or unfortunately has gotten significantly worse

  • Relationship: if you're no longer single, or you're single again, or it's gotten complicated - whether this is due to marriage, a committed partnership, a break-up, separation, divorce, or death

  • Family: if you've had a baby (or lots of babies) or if you've become a grandparent

  • Graduation: if you've graduated from having a child who was financially/legally dependent on you - whether it's because that child graduated from school or has otherwise launched themselves into adult life

  • Retirement: if you are no longer part the (paid) workforce

  • Health: if you or someone in your immediate family has had a significant change in their health

  • Home: if have moved to a new state (or country)

  • Laws: if the laws that govern estate planning and that deal with how assets transfer (and are taxed) after death change (like right now, Congress is debating changing the estate tax laws)

Keep in mind - this list isn't comprehensive and a whole bunch of other things could happen - or in some instances not happen - that make it time to change your Will. If you're not certain, consulting with an estate planning attorney is always a good idea.

And, also keep in mind - even if you've had one of these things occur, it's possible that your Will was drafted in a way that is flexible enough to not require changing the document. And if changing the document is necessary - sometimes that can be accomplished via an amendment (called a codicil), whereas other times a complete rewrite may be the best course of action. Consult with an estate planning attorney will help you decide what (if anything) is needed. I offer Estate Plan Update consultations for exactly this reason - contact me for details.

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Graduation photo credit goes to @_willpower_