Whenever I give I talk, I ask for a show of hands regarding who has a will. It is usually much less than half. When I ask how many have updated their will in the last 3 years, I get 1 or 2 hands, or none. Most of us postpone doing a will because it reminds us of the inevitable. Yet it is probably the most important legal document you will ever be a party to. If you own anything or have children and die unexpectedly (few of us expect to die unexpectedly!), a stranger, a judge with no personal knowledge of you, will oversee the disposition of your assets and your children.
As importantly to those with wills, is insuring it is up to date. The passage of time always brings change. For example:
- You got married or divorced or remarried
- You are living with a new partner or broke up with an old one
- You had a child (birth or adopted), grandchild, niece, nephew, etc.
- A loved one passed away
- You want to change the executor, guardian of your child or trustee
- A child reached 18, and is no longer a child
- You relocated, from another state in particular
- You started (or ended) a business
- Your income changed
- You acquired assets, or sold assets
- You bought (or sold) a home
- The tax laws change
It should be clear that wills need to be updated regularly. This need not be a time consuming or costly effort. While online services provide standardized wills by state, virtually every individuals circumstances are unique. To insure this most important legal document you may ever be party to meets your unique circumstances, it might be best to consult with an attorney.