7 Life Changes that May Require a Change to Your Will
From the time when you make your Last Will and Testament to the time of your passing, life changes often happen that may change who should receive your property, who should administer your estate or who should act as guardian of your children. Some common circumstances which may implicate the need for a change to your will include:
- One or More of Your Named Executors or Beneficiaries has Died: Under Ohio law, unless otherwise stated in your will, a bequest to a beneficiary who dies before you will go to that beneficiary’s descendants as provided under Ohio law. This applies regardless of whether the beneficiary is related to you or not. Thus, for example, if you make a bequest to a friend, and he or she dies before you, you may need to update your will if you would prefer that your deceased friend’s bequest go to someone other than your friend’s descendants. In addition, if a named executor passes away, you will need to appoint a new one.
- You Ended a Marriage: Under Ohio law, your divorce or other termination of marriage with your spouse automatically revokes any bequest to them. In such a case, your spouse is treated as if he predeceased you. Although this eliminates the chance that you will inadvertently leave your ex-spouse your property, you may want to make a new will to explicitly provide for a different loved one or friend to take in their place. You may also need to appoint a new executor of your estate to replace your spouse.
- You Had a Child or Your Children Have Grown Up: When you have a child, you need to make the important decision of who would act as his guardian should something happen to you. You may also wish to change who would receive your property upon your death and possibly establish a trust or name a custodian for your child’s inheritance. When children are grown, you may wish to eliminate provisions regarding a trust or guardianship for your children. You may also wish to appoint your children as executors of your estate.
- Your Guardianship Wishes Have Changed: Perhaps the guardian you named for your children has had a change in life situation, ie. divorce, relocation or financial, and is no longer a good candidate. Perhaps you now have a better candidate available for appointment.
- Your Property Has Changed: The acquisition of new probate property or change in value could impact your bequests. If, for example, you provided for a specific sum of money to go to grandchildren and the remainder to your children and your estate has dropped in value, you might want to reapportion your bequests. You may also want to provide for additional property you have acquired.
- You Moved to a Different State: A move to a different state will likely change the items in your estate, such as your house or other domicile. Additionally, different states have different laws regarding wills, inheritance, taxes, and other aspects of the probate process. You should revisit your estate plan to ensure that the laws of your new home state will not affect the disposition of your estate in unintended ways.
- Changes in the Law: A new court opinion, or a new law enacted by Congress or your state’s legislature could have substantial consequences on your estate plan. It is a good idea to stay abreast of these developments, and to consult your estate planner regularly.
For more information on when and how to update your existing Last Will and Testament or for other Estate Planning questions or concerns, consult a Cleveland Estate Planning Lawyer.