It is a common misconception. An individual sets up his or her will or living trust and, following that, believes the job is done. In reality, a will, trust, or other estate-controlling document is as much a living, breathing creature as you are. As your circumstances, relationships, and the laws change, so too must your will reflect those changes. Otherwise, you may have an estate that is being distributed in accordance with your preferences from the 1990s as opposed to 2015.
There are numerous reasons to review, update, or modify your will or living trust. Perhaps new people have come into (or out of) your life. Perhaps you have joined an organization or charity group and have decided you’d like to leave a percentage of your estate to ensure the continued viability of that association. A good general rule of thumb is that any time you or anyone named in your will experiences a major life change (birth of a child, adoption, death of someone named in a will, children reach the age of 18, separation/divorce, relocation to a new state), it is time to at least consider revising your will or trust to indicate how these changes impact the manner in which you want your property distributed at death.
Perhaps the most important reason to regularly check on the status of your will or living trust is to account for any changes in the law and the effect these changes can have on your estate plan as currently laid out. Estate tax, inheritance tax, and gift tax exclusions continue to move up and down. Being aware of these changes and adjusting accordingly is key to providing maximum protection to your assets and providing for your loved ones.
If it has been longer than three years since you’ve last reviewed your will, it is likely in your best interest to arrange a time with your attorney to review this document. If you don’t have a will, or you have a will which you drafted which has not been reviewed by a licensed attorney, now is a good time to consider creating or reviewing your document with an attorney. Howland Hess O’Connell has several attorneys practicing in the field of Estate Planning and available to help you today, including: Richard Torpey, George O’Connell, Michael Cassidy, Thomas Guinan, Bruce Hess, John Howland, Karen Angelucci, Dennis Meakim, and Karen Mavros.
Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland, Hess and O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.