What is a Last Will and Testament?
A Last Will and Testament is the cornerstone of every estate plan…but it is not a once per lifetime document! It is instrumental in transferring your assets quickly and inexpensively to your loved ones upon your passing, and it should be kept up to date with the changes in your life. If you are a senior citizen, it’s quite possible that you executed your will more than a decade ago. That also means that you probably haven’t looked at it since it was originally drafted. We advise all of our clients to review their wills annually to account for changes in their personal and financial circumstances. Continue reading for guidance on when and why to review.
Think of the People in Your Life
Relationships are fluid, and people come and go from our lives regularly. It’s likely that the relationships with people named in your will have changed over the years. Perhaps your favorite niece isn’t so favorite anymore and you don’t want to leave her your car. Maybe your assets have grown considerably and you want a favorite charity to reap the benefit. Or, maybe a second marriage has brought loving new people into your life.
If you have minor children, we recommend that you name a guardian in the event that something should happen to you or your spouse. If your children have reached the age of majority, you may wish to consider revising certain bequests, or even naming one of them as executor. Consider the people you named as trustees, executors and guardians; are they still of sound mind and capable of serving in the role you’ve designated for them? Has one of your named beneficiaries passed away or become incapacitated? It’s crucial that your will reflects any such changes.
What You Own
You may need to revisit your will if your estate has experienced a substantial increase or decrease in value. Perhaps you have purchased or sold a major asset recently, started a business, or received an inheritance? Or, maybe you’ve acquired a new personal belonging that you know a loved one will cherish. You’ll want to update your will to reflect that. You may also have acquired enough from the last time to need to consider some tax planning.
Where You Live
If you have relocated from the state where you initially executed your will, you should consult an attorney in your new place of residence to determine whether it’s still valid. Laws vary from state to state, and you shouldn’t assume that your will or other estate planning documents meet your new state’s requirements.
What To Do
If you haven’t looked at your will or other estate planning documents in a few years, now is a great time to begin your initial review. We have locations in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester counties, and are happy to discuss your legal options. Feel free to call our office at (856) 227-7888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate and experienced estate planning attorneys. We are here for you.