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Does a will need to be updated?

It's a common misconception that after someone makes a will, they no longer need to put any further thought into it. The truth is, there are many reasons a will may need updating after its initial creation. If there is a tragic accident and your will comes into play, you want to make sure it reflects your most accurate wishes.

Reasons to update a will

Many things may lead a person to want to revise their last will and testament:

  • Relationships with family and friends: How you divide your estate and who you leave it to depends in large part on the connection between you and your friends and family. If you strengthen a bond with someone, you may want to include them in your will. On the other hand, difficulties with someone you were previously close with may leave you feeling like they don't deserve to receive any of your belongings.
  • Tax law changes: MarketWatch advises people to keep a close eye on changing tax laws at both the federal and state levels. Your beneficiaries may miss benefits available from new statutes or face stiffer taxes than anticipated. Avoiding either of these situations can require updating your will.
  • Divorce and marriage: Whether you separate from a significant other or find one, this is often a big reason to update your will. You wouldn't want, for instance, an ex-spouse to still listed in your last wishes. Marriage to someone with kids may also change how you plan to distribute things. You may decide to set up trusts to help step-children pay for college in the future.
  • Relocation: A move across state lines may not feel like a good reason to update your will, but it may be. As Forbes points out, each state governs them differently, and a testament may need modification because of your new residence.

To avoid running into problems from an outdated will, it is best to look at the document as something that grows alongside you. As you go through changes in your life, it too must change.

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  • Walter J. Roesch IV
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