One of the most important things you can do is keep your will updated. As you go though life changes, you change the entitlement of your beneficiaries and heirs. Failing to do some can have dire consequences. One of them is money going to the wrong people when you pass away.
Changing your Will upon Marriage
Upon marriage, you and your partner should amend your will. In many states, there are laws that give a piece of your estate to your other half upon your death. It is worth noting, however, that if you want to put your will together properly, you should make your wishes known in writing. Adding your spouse to your will can modify the percentage of your estate that any recipients were due to receive.
Amending your will should reflect this change. If you and your partner live in particular states, including Colorado or Iowa and certain others, you may be classified as a married couple under common law. However, there are certain prerequisites that have to be met for this stand. By these terms, you may be looked at as having engaged in marriage only for proof of will. It is always a good idea to take a look at these state laws before continuing forward.
If you find a new partner without marriage, your new partner is not automatically given entitlement to assets from your estate. Again, certain states enforce certain laws in regards to the receipt of will payments. If you and your partner decide to divorce, some states may choose to revoke items that you have left to your partner.
In contrast, there are other states that do recognise this part of the law. It is important to state what you want to leave to your former spouse or in other instances, how these gifts are to be spread. Upon having a child, your offspring may receive some of your assets, too. State laws can often differ from how property is distributed, however.
How Are Children Affected?
When bringing a baby into the family, you have to outline what the child will receive. Another thing to consider is who is to be their guardian in the event anything happens to you.
Stepchildren are also to be considered when drawing up wills. They are not automatically considered for a share of your property in most cases. Your will should be amended to reflect this.
If you move states from a community property state to a common law property state, you will find that the laws affect what each party is entitled to under ownership. You should also be constantly reminding yourself of how your will should be divided according to your feelings about potential heirs. Problems can arise in your relationships that would cause you revaluate the portion of entitlement they receive. The loss or gain of properties also has to be accounted for.
How to Change Your Will
Changing your will can be done most easily by drafting up a new will. You must also remember to revoke your previous will. You can do this be writing a statement in the newest version of your will that says the previous version is invalid.
Alongside stating this in the new version of your will, you should also destroy the previous version – this will circumvent any confusion or the risk of anyone contesting the validity of previous wills. You can also amend your will be adding a codicil.
A codicil is defined as an amendment to your will, and can be used to revoke part of the will or add a new section to it. Their authenticity is dependent on them being signed, dated and witnessed, much like the original.
Changing codicils to will have been an efficient way of making changes to a will for a long time. This was before modern technology made will drafting/amending much more efficient. However, despite being able to annex a codicil to a will, they are not an ideal way of making changes. In most cases, they cause confusion, can end up being misplaced, and occasionally are used to challenge wills.
Estate Documents Have to Be Considered
A lot of your property will pass by law to recipients of your will, despite what is stated by you. Money from retirement, life insurance, joint bank accounts and more will all pass onto a particular beneficiary.
If you want this recipient to be different, make a change to the names on the forms that you appointed the original recipients to. Do not make this change through the will, otherwise it is null and void. Living trusts are not affected by your will either. Changing living trusts can be done by adding amends to the original trust document.
You can then transfer property in or out of trustee names. You don’t have to revoke trust or create an original one like changing a will. Getting help in changing your will is also a wise option. This can be done with the aid of an estate planning attorney.