Estate Planning: When to Change Your Will

Clients often ask us when it is appropriate to change your will. The following is a brief listing of when you might want to change your will:

  1. Marriage: A new, post-will spouse can take a share of the estate if not mentioned in the will.
  2. Separation: If a person dies while separated from their spouse, their separated spouse will still receive their share of the estate under the old will, or their intestate share if there is no will. To avoid this, a new will would need to be prepared disinheriting the separated spouse.
  3. Divorce: The will is revoked as to a divorced spouse, so former provisions for the spouse may pass as residue or by intestacy.
  4. Death of Spouse: Major tax consequences to estate plan of family may require revision of the plan.
  5. Birth of New Child: Failure to name or provide for all children entitles omitted child to take an intestate share of the estate. One can disinherit children, but this must be specifically stated.
  6. Change in Personal Representative: You may want or need to change the executor, trustee or guardian named in your will. The named person may be too old to serve or no longer be close to the family.
  7. Change in Financial Condition: You may want to give more or less wealth to more, different, or fewer people, and review and revamp your tax strategy.
  8. Change in Law: The laws may change and you can change your estate plan to make the law your friend rather than your adversary.