Senior Finance: When Should You Change Your Will?Jul 31st, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Finances
Some of us make a will at some point in our lives, put it in a file or lock box, and forget about it. Not a smart thing to do.
Wills need to be reviewed and may need to be changed when life circumstances change. These include
- When you get married or re-married. A will designates how much of your estate will go to your spouse, and how much will go to others. The only way your spouse will not get one-third or one-half of your estate (depending on your state laws) is if you so designate; and your spouse has to agree in writing if s/he will get less than what your state law says. Most financial advisers recommend creating a pre-nuptial agreement so disputes about who gets what can be avoided.
- If you are a senior and you re-marry, you need to designate in your will if and how money will be left for your step-children. Trusts are a good way to divide up your estate in a specific way, insuring your heirs will receive what you designate for them.
- Your will needs to be updated when family circumstances change. These include divorces, death, separations and grandchildren/great-grandchildren, if you are leaving designated amounts/items to them.
- If your spouse dies or you get divorced, you need to review your entire will/estate plan and make changes accordingly. SCJ recommends the assistance of a capable financial planner or trusted advisor in this situation.
- If you move to another state, you need to have your will and estate plan reviewed in the face of that state’s laws, as well as anything about your current situation that may have changed.
Be sure your will and any related estate planning documents are in a safe place, and a trusted family member or friend know where they are.