It is important to remember that your will should always accommodate your current situation in life. There are some circumstances in particular that should trigger you to change your will:
- You and your partner are unmarried: your partner will not inherit anything from you automatically, so you and your partner will want to make new wills.
- You get married: if you do not decide what you want your spouse to inherit, the state will decide for you.
- You are married and are moving from a state with community property laws to a state with separate property laws, or vice versa: these two different laws view the ownership of property by married couples differently. You will not be able to dispose of your property in a way which violates community property laws, and your entire will may become invalid if you do so.
- You have a baby: you will want to modify your will to include appointing a guardian in the event that neither you nor your spouse can take care of the child. You may also want to provide special gifts for your children.
- You have a new stepchild: your stepchild has no legal right to inherit anything from you unless you legally adopt her, or simply put her in your will as to what you want her to inherit.
- You get divorced: depending on what state you live in, getting a divorce can affect your will in different ways, including completely revoking it.
- You simply change your mind: about who you want to inherit a certain piece of property.
How Do I Change My Will?
There are two common methods for changing a will:
- Codicil: this is simply an amendment to your already existing will. However, it is no longer the preferred method of changing a will since technology now makes it very easy to simply create a new will, and just adding amendments to an old will can make reading that will very confusing and complex.
- Making a new will: this is the preferred way for changing a will. Computer programs can help cut down on the hassle of drawing up a new will.
Do I Need a Lawyer When Creating or Changing a Will?
It is always a good idea to consult an estate attorney when drafting or changing your will. Your attorney will be able to guide you through the tax implications as well as the legal formalities of drafting and changing your will. Your attorney can also help you decide the best way to distribute your property.