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Should I update my will if a beneficiary's circumstances change?

Once you've crafted a will, there a number of instances in which you might need to consider updating it to ensure its efficiency and to account for circumstantial changes for those involved. It is common to update a will if you yourself experience a great change in your own life circumstances, such as a marriage, divorce or the gain or loss of a significant asset. However, it is also wise to consider changing a will when one of your beneficiaries undergoes a significant life change.

A will can have enormous implications for a beneficiary, depending on the nature of the document. Oftentimes, if one of your beneficiaries experiences a significant life change, it may affect how you wish to include him or her in your estate plan. If, for instance, they get married or divorced, your relationship to their spouse (or former spouse) may play a roll in how you include them in the will.

Also, generosity is often a double-edged sword. If you leave significant assets to an individual whose circumstances change dramatically, you may leave them with a burden while intending to leave them with a gift. Many gifts have tax implications, which may become more of a hassle than a blessing for a beneficiary. Similarly, if a person suffers some ailment that places them in need of ongoing government assistance, then you must be careful to not leave them a gift that could disqualify them from that assistance.

No matter what your needs may be, the guidance of an experienced attorney can help you keep your will in proper shape to fully express your wishes and care for those you love. An experienced attorney is always on hand to ensure that your rights remain protected as you keep your affairs in order.

Source: Findlaw, "Checklist: Reasons to Update Your Will & Estate Planning Documents," accessed March 29, 2017

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