When Should I Revisit My Will?

Even if you’ve already created a will, it’s important to revisit it from time to time, and make sure it’s up to date. If your answer to any of the questions below is “yes,” it may be time to create a new will, or update your existing will.

1. Have you acquired more assets?

If you’ve bought a house, boat or vehicle, acquired real estate, or inherited assets since you last drafted a will, you may need to update it. Depending on the language of your existing will, new assets may automatically be left to your spouse or your children. However, if you wish to make gifts of any recently acquired assets to certain people — such as leaving your car to a niece who will soon turn 16, or turning over real estate to a family member who assists you in property management — updating your will can make that possible.

2. Have you gotten married or divorced?

Changes in marital status are one of the biggest reasons people update their wills. If you’ve married since your last will was drafted, it’s important to include provisions for your spouse after you die. And, if you’ve gotten divorced, it’s equally vital to ensure your assets don’t automatically go to your ex-spouse — especially if you have children.

3. Have any new children or grandchildren been born?

If you have minor children, or if you are the guardian of grandchildren, you should appoint a legal guardian in your will, in the event that you die before they turn eighteen. Of course, you may also want to leave specific gifts to your children or grandchildren. These are both items that may be addressed when you update your will.

4. Have you started a new business?

Your business is an important part of who you are — and it’s also a vital asset. From office property, desks, computers and equipment, to intellectual property, businesses have value. If you’ve started a new business since you last wrote a will, you should update your will to include a succession plan and allocate your business interests and assets.

5. Have you moved?

If so, chances are you may have acquired new assets, and disposed of old ones. Perhaps more importantly, if you’ve moved to a new state, your prior will may not comply with your new state’s guidelines.

6. Have you taken on additional debt?

Did you get a new mortgage or refinance your home? Take out a home equity loan or line of credit? Are you paying college tuition for children or grandchildren? If you’ve taken on any additional debt, it’s worth it to re-assess your will.

7. Have tax laws changed?

If you’re aware of any recent changes in tax laws that might affect the amount of estate tax paid on your assets, it may benefit your loved ones to update your will.

8. Has there been a change in circumstances for your executor, guardian, or trustee?

If one of these important individuals has died or become ill, your relationship with them has changed, or they are currently unable to fulfill their role, you should update your will to appoint a different person.

9. Are you nearing the age to receive required distributions from your retirement accounts?

IRAs, 401ks and other qualified retirement plans are all part of your personal assets — so when you begin to receive distributions, it’s a good time to review your will, and revise it if necessary.

10. Has it been a decade or longer?

If so, you’ve almost certainly either acquired new property, entered into new relationships, or had some change in circumstances that would warrant re-examining your will.

The good news? New wills automatically negate previously dated wills, so you don’t have to worry about hunting down the lawyer or legal forms website you used to draft your original will. Plus, updating your will is easier and less expensive than you might think. You can have a Texas attorney create your new will for just $225.