While it’s important to get a Will sorted as soon as you can, you’ll definitely want to remember that it’s not a set and forget document. A Will is going to change or need to be updated throughout the course of your life as your circumstances, family and assets change. It’s a representation of your intentions and your estate at a certain moment in time, but it won’t always be accurate if you don’t take the time to update it.
When you go through significant changes in your life, it’s important to recognise that those changes will impact and will need to be reflected in your Will. If you’ve written one prior to getting married or divorced for example, there could be a significant effect that you’ll need to think about. There is even a chance that some of these changes would make your Will completely invalid. That’s naturally going to be a concern, and it’s important to understand it now.
If you’re getting married, it’s time to make a new Will
In some states, getting married will actually invalidate your Will. This is because it changes the order of next of kin and it changes who has a legal right to your estate. When you have a spouse, you will need to write a new Will that reflects the changed situation. This can actually be a good thing in most circumstances, because you will want to make sure they’re looked after in the event of your death, and it will be important to provide for them through your assets.
It’s a good idea for a married couple to sit down together as soon as they can to write out new Wills together and be on the same page with their plans.
If you’re separated, a Will could be an important task too
If you are a couple who have separated, your current Wills are still going to be valid. However, depending on the circumstances, you may want to take steps to address the contents of that Will to better reflect your current intentions. If it’s a temporary separation, that could be a non-issue; but if it’s a more permanent scenario, you are going to want to address your assets and beneficiaries as soon as possible.
A divorce does require a new Will
In some states, you’ll find that getting divorced can also invalidate your Will, because it represents a similarly drastic change in circumstances. The dissolution of a marriage means that your estate and your assets are going to need to be redistributed and new plans will need to be made. When you’re dividing your shared assets, that will also have an impact.
Overall, the right way to handle it is to think about your Will as a living document that needs to be refreshed every few years, regardless of what has and hasn’t changed in your life. Look for the important trigger points around major shifts, and remember that it’s up to you to keep it sorted out. You won’t regret taking the time to keep it current, and the more frequently you revisit it, the less dramatic the changes are going to be.