There are many common reasons that your Will may not accomplish what you hope it would, but failing to update your Will after changed life circumstances is at the top of the list. Most people view a Will as a “one and done” event. However, it is important to understand why you should not just sign your Will, store it away, and forget about it. After all, life is rarely that easy.
Changes in your life circumstances dictate a change in your Will planning. If you’ve recently gotten divorced or remarried, have a new adopted or biological child, have received a big inheritance, or have real estate, chances are that you need to update your Will accordingly.
Consider that if your Will is outdated based on your life circumstances, but still legally valid, property referenced in the most recent version of your Will would be passed on as listed. So if, for example, you did not update your Will after recently getting divorced or after the birth of a new grandchild, the plan as written might not reflect what you really want to happen. What’s worse is that once you are gone, your loved ones will be left to deal with the fallout.
Furthermore, even if absolutely nothing whatsoever has changed in your life, you might still need to update your Will. Even if you have changed nothing, the world has changed around you. A Will, a Trust, Powers of Attorney, these are all documents that have to act in the real world as it exists today; what do you have from 20 years ago that you still count on to work just as good today? A solid hammer? A good kitchen knife? Sure, they’re built to last, but even the best hammer can wear out and every knife needs sharpening from time to time. Changes in the world and changes in the law can impact the planning you’ve done in ways you may have never considered. You would never drive a car for 20 years without changing the oil and getting a tune up. You wouldn’t live in a home year after year without proper maintenance. So why wouldn’t you make sure your estate plan is properly maintained?
Sometimes an Amendment to your Will alone might not be enough to sufficiently update your plans. You might need to revoke the previous Will and create an entirely new document with certain directions.
If you know you have a Will somewhere, and that it most likely doesn’t reflect your current life circumstances, contact our estate planning office today for help updating your Will or planning for a new one. Our Michigan estate planning lawyers are happy to walk you through each step of your existing Will and assist you with identifying potential problems and outdated content.