Don't file and forget your estate planning!
For many people a will is something that does not get reviewed for more than a decade, and if that is you then you should certainly review it and update it.
How much do things change in a decade? New family members arrive, some leave or pass away, your estate changes enormously and your career has probably changed significantly. Some people in your life have become more important and others have become less significant...are you wishes the same as they were a decade ago?
Here are some of the key events that should automatically trigger a review anyway:
- Births and deaths
If you have family members listed as beneficiaries in your Will it is crucial that your Will is kept up to date. Family members may be able to claim against your estate if they have been left out of your Will, so if you have included grandchildren A, B and C in your Will but haven't had it updated since grandchild D was born, grandchild D will be able to claim against the estate. This will cause added stress to your family at an already difficult time. At the other end of the spectrum, if any of your beneficiaries have died you should make sure they are taken out of your Will so as not to cause any confusion about who the asset in question should be given to.
If you have children under the age of 18, think about who you have listed as their guardians. If you have fallen out with that person, you may no longer wish them to have guardianship of your children if you pass away. In this case you should consider who you want to care for your kids and have the guardianship provision changed.
- Valuable property
As you have gotten older, you have probably moved up the ranks in your career. As you've earned more money, you've probably been able to invest in more valuable houses or flasher cars. Make sure that your Will reflects this situation; it may affect the way you want to split your assets up.
- The Executor
Your executor is the person you have listed to oversee your Will being carried out correctly. Often people will choose a professional such as a lawyer or an accountant to be their executor, instead of a friend or family member. As silly as it sounds, you should check that your executor is still alive! If you have chosen a professional, your executor may not necessarily be someone you know on a personal level and so news of their death could have evaded you. You should check that your executor is alive so that at the time of your death it is clear to the court who it is that will be overseeing your Will.
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