Updating Wills & Trusts

Wills & Trusts Are Peace of Mind

You can’t control when you pass away, but you can control some of the impact on your loved ones by having the right legal tools in place. Having a Will and Trust can give you the peace of mind that your loved ones won’t have to make tough choices about what you may or may not have wanted. Better still, the courts won’t be making decisions for you.  

Wills and Trusts are a way of legally setting the record straight once and for all. It may seem like a daunting task to figure out what you may need, but the truth is that it’s pretty straightforward in most cases. Let’s start by explaining the difference between a Will and a Trust. 

The Difference Between a Will & Trust

A Will is a legal document that allows you to dictate how your estate should be settled in the event of your death. You may wonder if you need one. The short answer: Yes. 

If you’ve accumulated assets like a home, boat, or car, having a Will makes sense. It gives you a say in what happens with the legacy you’ve worked hard to build. It can also specify guardianship for your children and even charitable donations. It’s not only about the property. It’s about protecting the people you care about the most.

A Trust is a legal tool used to hold the title to your assets and privately distribute those assets after your death. While the purpose of Wills and Trusts is to transfer your estate to your heirs, only a trust allows your loved ones to bypass probate court. 

Find Our More: Why the Revocable Living Trust has Become Increasingly Popular

Reasons to Update Your Will 

Your Will isn’t a static document, meaning it will likely change throughout your lifetime. There are several major life events or circumstances that may require you to rethink what you would like to happen in the event of your death. Here are some of the scenarios where it makes sense to update your Will.

Having a Child

When you have a child, your Will can specify guardianship in the event of your death. Let’s say you have a second or third child who needs to be added to your Will or one of your children may have long-term care needs due to a health condition—these are all scenarios that may require you to update your Will over time.

Getting Married or Divorced

If you have a Will and get married, you will need to make some updates. The same is true, especially if you get divorced. You may not want your ex-spouse to receive your treasured family heirlooms if you agree to part ways.

Change in Beneficiaries

Maybe a beneficiary has passed away or you wish to add in someone new. For example, if a new caregiver comes into your life who is particularly helpful or if one of your children takes on additional responsibilities for your care. You may want to recognize this person in your Will in some way to show your gratitude for their support.

Change of Residence

If you no longer own a property or add a new residence, that’s a good time to update your Will. Again, accuracy with your Will matters, so if you’re bequeathing a property that doesn’t belong to you or isn’t included, it can cause issues.  

Moving to Another State 

Especially if you move out of state, updating your Will is important, because the laws in that state may differ. Some rules may not apply or there may be new laws to consider, so it’s worth looking into to ensure the smooth transfer of assets to your beneficiaries.

Lost, Sold, or Change in the Value of Assets

Let’s say a valuable painting is lost in a fire, you sell old jewelry or your treasured coin collection suddenly triples in value—these are all scenarios where you may want to revisit your Will, so it reflects updated circumstances. 

How Often Should You Update Wills & Trusts?

The consensus varies among industry professionals on exactly how often you should update a Will, but we believe looking at it at least once per year makes sense. 

How often you update your Will depends on the pace of change in your life. If you’re at a stage where your family is growing, you move frequently, you have changes in your health, or have substantial changes in your assets, it’s probably a good time to revisit your will and make some updates. The goal is to make sure your Will and Trust continually reflect your wishes.

How Do You Make Updates to Wills & Trusts?

If you want to make changes to your Will, you can either make a codicil to your existing Will or make a new Will. Both require your signature and the signatures of two witnesses.

If you have only a few small changes, making a codicil may be a good option. But, in most cases, it makes more sense to make a new Will. Revoking the old Will and making a new one will reduce the possibility of any confusion that could come from having an add-on to your Will. 

Mattingly Ford Asset & Estate Planning

Our estate planning attorneys can help you understand your options and make it easy to get the legal documentation you need for added peace of mind. Call us at (502) 814-9860 or contact us online.