Trigger Alert: Life changes mean you need to change your will

Life Triggers - Young woman graduating

Life Triggers - Young woman graduatingYou’ve written a will — great! But when was the last time you reviewed it? If you don’t know the answer to that question, then it’s probably time to do so because a will is not something that you can simply set and forget.  Certain life events should naturally trigger a will review.

Life and circumstance change over time, and your will needs to reflect those changes. If it doesn’t it may not do what you expect it to do when you die.

What kind of life changes should trigger a will review? Here’s our top five list, in no particular order.

  1. A graduation. A monumental milestone in your child’s life, graduation may also mean that your child is no longer a dependent, which may affect certain provisions or beneficiaries in your will. As such, you may want to review your bequests, or even consider naming your child as an executor now that they are no longer considered a dependent. Or are they? Depending on your child’s age and plans for continued education, your child may still be considered a dependent. Check with a lawyer to find out how best to include your young adult in your will.
  2. Birth or adoption of a child. If you’ve had a child (or another child) since writing your will, it’s definitely time to update it. Not doing so means that child may not be included in any inheritance and no provisions are made for his or her guardianship should you pass away.
  3. A death. Your executor is the person who will honour your final wishes. If they die before you, you no longer have someone to settle your estate. As well, if a beneficiary named in your will dies before you, you may wish to amend your will to redistribute your assets to your other beneficiaries. Of course, if the person you’ve named to be the guardian of your dependent children passes away, you need to update your will immediately.
  4. A change in relationship. Marriage, separation or divorce are all reasons to change your will. Not doing so means that your new partner may not wind up with much upon your death or your ex-partner may wind up with more than you’d like.
  5. A significant change in assets. If your estate has significantly increased or decreased in value, it’s probably a good idea to take another look at your will to see whether that change affects any of your decisions.

There are two ways to change your will. The first is to write a codicil with the help of a lawyer. This is basically an amendment that is added to your will. The second is to work with a lawyer to start from scratch. When to use a codicil versus rewriting your will often depends on the extent of your changes.

Now that updating your will is on your radar, it’s time to review yours. We can help. Get in touch today with your questions.

This article does not replace legal advice and is meant to be for information purposes only. Please consult us or any other legally trained professional.