Many people like to think that creating a last will or estate plan is a one-time effort. However, that is simply not true unless you wait until your death is imminent. The best way to approach your last will and estate plan is to handle it early in life and update it often.
If you created a basic last will when you finished college, but now you're married, it's time to look over that will. Similarly, if your last will was written years ago, it may be time to revise it to add your grandchildren and remove a provision for the care of your elderly parents, who may have since passed on from this life.
Our families grow and change throughout our lives. Marriage, divorce, birth and death within your family can all impact what you want to have included in your estate plan and last will. Sitting down with your probate and estate law attorney to update your last will and estate plan is something you should do regularly, whenever the size or form of your family changes.
You should also make sure to update your estate plan when your medical wishes change, such as resuscitation orders, or when you've decided to add gifts to charities or other organizations to the text of your last will.
The longer you wait for updates, the greater the risk that something will happen while your last will is inaccurate, leading to issues with its execution.
The greater your assets, the more important an accurate will becomes
As your assets increase in value and complexity, the importance of an accurate and up-to-date last will grows as well. When you have retirement accounts, investment properties or other possessions of value, you want your last will to ensure each of those assets goes to the exact party that you wish it to.
The older your last will is when you pass away, the easier it is for someone in your last will (or someone you intentionally left out of your estate plan) to contest your will with the courts. By updating it regularly to ensure accuracy, you make it harder for someone to contest and change your last will.
If someone decides to contest your last will, your estate will probably go through probate court. Going through probate court is a complex and often expensive process. Your heirs will not only need to alert all other potential heirs, your creditors and extended family may become involved in the process, too. The more assets you have, the more people who may show up, feeling like they are entitled to a piece of your estate. Creating a legally sound and up-to-date last will and estate plan is the best way to prevent this kind of issue from tearing your family apart after you're gone.