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Kelly & West News

When and How Often Should I Update My Will?

A Will is a legal document that spells out what you want to happen to your property and possessions after you die. Many people set up a Will at some point during adulthood but then stash it away —  in a lockbox, safe deposit box, or buried in a closet bin believing they will never have to update it.

Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna

Estate planning attorneys such as our team here at Kelly & West will also file a copy at the courthouse so that you’re all set. However, there’s one step you might be forgetting: updating your Will. 

In general, review your Will every three to five years to make sure everything is still accurate. There are also a few situations in life during which you need to tell your lawyers to make changes to this legal document. 

  1. Marriage/Divorce In North Carolina, you cannot disinherit a spouse and if you are recently married you probably will want to include your spouse in your Will so you will want an update.   Divorce may not invalidate your Will but you will probably want to update to whom your assets are transferred following your death if it’s no longer your spouse. And if you remarry, consider updating your Will again, of course. 
  1. Moving to Another State – The Will you create in North Carolina may be valid, but if you permanently relocate, you’ll want an attorney licensed in the new state to review your Will and he or she may even suggest making a new one, as many state laws differ.  Probate laws vary by state also. Having your Will updated will make it far easier for your heirs to figure things out after you die.   
  1. New Children or Grandchildren – Typically, when creating a Will, parents appoint a legal guardian to care for their children in case the worst happens. Children are also usually listed as secondary beneficiaries after the spouse. As you add children to your family, be sure to update your Will to list them and ensure that they are included.  Then, if you have grandchildren and wish to include them in your Will, you will want to let your attorney know as generally grandchildren are not included automatically by law in North Carolina unless your children die. 
  1. Significant Changes in Assets – When you buy a new property, boat, motor coach, or something else large, let your estate planning attorney know about it. That way, you can add it to your Will and reassess how your assets are to be distributed.
  1. Severe Health Problems – If you have a heart attack, stroke, cancer, or other severe health crisis, you undoubtedly have a lot on your mind. However, it’s critical to sit down with your attorney to confirm everything is how it should be with your Will and especially in your Power of Attorney.  A Power of Attorney is so important in protecting you as it can allow your agent to do things for you privately, without court involvement and/or supervision.  

 These are just some of the occasions in life when you need to update your Will. Contact us today if you have any other questions about your Will or estate. 

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