You have a will, so you can rest easy, right? Not necessarily. If your will is outdated, it can actually cause more harm than good. Even though it can provide for some contingencies, an old will cannot cover every change that may have occurred since it was first drafted. Here are 17 reasons it may be time for an update.
Account for What Is Different
Professionals advise that you review your will every few years and more often if situations such as the following have occurred since you last updated your will.
1.Family changes. Events such as marriage, divorce, death, birth or adoption may affect how your estate will be distributed, who should act as guardian for your dependents and who should be named as executor or personal representative of your estate.
2.Relocating to a new state. Laws among the states vary. Moving to a new state or purchasing property in another state can affect estate plans and how property in that new state will be taxed or distributed.
3.Changes in your estate’s value. When you made your will, your assets may have been relatively modest. Now the value may be larger and your will no longer reflects how you would like to divide your estate.
4.Tax law changes. Federal and state tax laws are constantly changing, so you will want to be aware of any updates that affect you. An outdated estate plan may fail to take advantage of strategies that will minimize taxes.
5.Support a favorite cause. If you have developed a connection to an organization, such as LWV, you may want to benefit a particular charity with a gift in your estate. Contact us for sample language you can share with your attorney to include a gift to the League of Women Voters in your will.
If you need to make or revise a will here are some things you can do with it.
6.Make gifts. You can give jewelry, art or other prized possessions to those who will appreciate them.
7.Create a trust for your loved ones. This is a good way to protect family and safeguard money. A professional trustee can manage your money wisely and make sure your beneficiaries receive enough income to maintain their standard of living.
8.Name your executor or personal representative. Before you choose an executor or personal representative, weigh the qualifications of your choice against the many critical duties required.
9.Name a guardian for a child or a dependent under your care. Choose someone who is willing and qualified to take the job and who shares your values and way of life.
10.Take care of your pets. You can identify potential caregivers for your pet or set up a trust for their care.
11.Pass on a closely held business. You can provide for the management and disposition of your interest in a closely held business to preserve its value and your family’s participation.
While you are reviewing your will, do not forget to review your powers of attorney and living will or advance directive as well. It is important that your health care power of attorney and financial power of attorney appoint a trusted individual or individuals to make medical or financial decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. A living will or advance directive documents your wishes regarding life-sustaining care. It can be as detailed or as simple as you like.
Do you want to help support LWV after your lifetime? If so, there are many ways you can do this in your will. Here are some suggestions.
12.Give LWV a share of what is left in your estate after other obligations are met.
13.Give LWV a specific amount of cash or securities.
14.Leave certain personal or real property to the League of Women Voters and allow LWV to decide whether to keep it or sell it.
15.Make a contingent bequest. We will receive certain assets only if a named individual does not survive you. For example, you could provide for us to receive a gift only if your spouse does not survive you. Such a provision recognizes the need to provide first for family members or loved ones.
16.Create a charitable remainder trust to pay an income to your spouse or other loved one(s) for life, and designate the remaining principal for LWV.
17.Create a charitable lead trust to pay income to LWV for a number of years, or for another person’s lifetime, with the trust assets eventually being distributed to your family.
To make sure your will accomplishes all you intend, seek the help of an attorney who specializes in estate planning. If the League of Women Voters fits into your plans, we can help you choose the method of giving that best satisfies your wishes and our needs.
Information contained herein was accurate at the time of posting. The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results. California residents: Annuities are subject to regulation by the State of California. Payments under such agreements, however, are not protected or otherwise guaranteed by any government agency or the California Life and Health Insurance Guarantee Association. Oklahoma residents: A charitable gift annuity is not regulated by the Oklahoma Insurance Department and is not protected by a guaranty association affiliated with the Oklahoma Insurance Department. South Dakota residents: Charitable gift annuities are not regulated by and are not under the jurisdiction of the South Dakota Division of Insurance.