Having a will is just the beginning of what makes a will important. Many people go without a will -- it's true. But these grantors often lack the legal protections that they would actually want, and their beneficiaries (and their entire estate) can suffer as a result of it. Dying intestate (which means to die without a will) leaves your estate up to state laws and the normal probate process. Having a will is crucial.
But maintaining and frequently updating the will is just as important, if not more important than the will itself. Failing to update your will could leave your beneficiaries without the assets you may have verbally promised them and truly intended them to have, or your estate could reward people who you have fallen out of favor with or who you may not want to receive a portion of your estate.
So when should you update your will? Consider these circumstance:
- If you get married, divorced, have children, or if your children have children, then you should update your will accordingly.
- If state laws change in regards to wills or estates, then review your will.
- If your estate's value changes dramatically, or if you acquire a new and significant asset, then you should update your will.
- If any of your beneficiaries pass away, or if new people in your life should be granted beneficiary status, then you should review your will and update it accordingly.
Source: FindLaw, "Checklist: Reasons to Update Your Will & Estate Planning Documents," Accessed Sept. 1, 2017