On a practical level, creating an estate plan is relatively simple, especially if you have solid legal advice and guidance. However, for many, the difficult part is getting past the emotional toll it takes to write a will. You have to consider many unhappy contingencies for the end of your life, and you must think about the fate of your loved ones after you are gone.
If you are among those few in California who braved these daunting thoughts and wrote your will, you should be proud. You have taken steps to relieve some of the burdens many families experience after a loved one dies without a will. Unfortunately, if it has been a while since you reviewed or updated your will, you may be leaving more problems than you are preventing.
Life changes everything
An outdated will may create confusion and lead to litigation among your loved ones. Most essentially, it will not do what you wrote it to do, which is to express your wishes for your estate after you die. Hardly a year goes by that doesn’t bring life changes. Some major life events that may require a revision of your will include the following:
- If you are planning to divorce or have already gone through one, dealing quickly with your ex as a beneficiary is important.
- If you are welcoming a child to your family, your will can include the name of a guardian in case something should happen to you while the child is still a minor.
- You may want to transfer assets to a trust if your child gets married, an heir falls into addiction or a beneficiary accumulates heavy debt.
- If your financial situation or assets change drastically or your will is based on defunct legislation, amending your will is critical.
- If your executor or an heir passes away, some beneficiaries become estranged, or your chosen executor is no longer capable of handling your affairs, you may wish to alter these terms in your will.
Of course, you may simply change your mind about how you want to distribute your assets, leaving more to charity, including grandchildren or disinheriting someone altogether. It is possible that you do not even remember what your will says or where you put it. Even if it has only been a year or two since you drafted your will, consulting a skilled attorney may provide you with the information and guidance that can help clear up any confusion and provide a legacy of love for your family.