I Just Got Married (or Divorced) – Should I Update My Will?
Having a plan for the future gives us peace of mind. Proper planning can help you be financially and legally prepared for both expected and unexpected life events. But having a plan in place doesn't mean you never have to think about it again. Like most long-term plans, your last will and testament and other aspects of your estate plan should be reviewed periodically and updated anytime your life or family structure significantly changes.
Why can't I set it and forget it?
Think of your long-term estate plan like a cross-country flight — the pilot has a flight plan, but he will probably make course corrections along the way to account for unforeseen weather or other events. The same is true for estate planning. When life changes course, you need to review your estate plan and make adjustments to stay on track.
Significant life events signal time for a review
The standard rule of thumb is to review your estate plan every ten years, unless prompted to review it sooner by life changes. Some events which should trigger a review include:
- Getting married or divorced
- Adding children to your family
- Significant changes in your assets
- Death of a spouse
- Death of one or more of your intended beneficiaries
- Death of the intended executor or back-up executor in your will
If one of these events has occurred in your life, now is the time to make course corrections in your estate plan.
Have you added or lost heirs?
One scenario which is often overlooked involves step-children. If you do not have a will, your step-children are not entitled to inherit anything from you under Texas law. (This may be alright with you, or maybe you want to be sure they do inherit something from you.)
In addition, even if you have a will and you leave property to ‘your children,' your step-children will not be included because only your children by birth or adoption are considered your children for purposes of interpreting the terms of a will.
If you want your step-children to inherit from you, you should update your will to specifically include them.
On the other hand, if there are blood relatives you want to exclude from your will, your will should say so specifically. Your attorney may advise you to include a basic reason for the exclusion in your will to mitigate any court challenge after your death by a disappointed would-be heir.
We can help you bring your plan up to date
Our experienced Bryan, Texas estate planning attorneys review your existing plan and current family structure, future plans and current financial situation to recommend updates to keep you on track to achieving your goals. If you don't already have a will or comprehensive estate plan, we guide you through the process of creating one step by step for your peace of mind. Make an appointment today with and attorney at Peterson Law Group by calling 979-703-7014 or by visiting us online for more information.