Writing a will is a very important, delicate task. Wills hold great power and help your loved ones understand your wishes for your end of life options and your estate, but they are not magical documents that fix everything. In fact, some of the most common problems that arise with wills are the result of poor understanding of what a will should and should not do.
When creating your estate plan, there are a number of very useful tools that you can employ to protect your property and legacy. In a best-case-scenario, your plan will use several different tools and piece them together so that they work in concert to maximize your benefits and protection. One very useful estate planning tool that works with other protective estate planning products is a pour-over will.
It is common knowledge at this point that everyone should have a will, but simply having a will is not always enough to properly express your wishes and protect your estate. If your will no longer suits your needs, or if you have created more than one will and wish to eliminate confusion for your loved ones, it is often necessary to revoke an existing will. There a number of ways to accomplish this, depending on your circumstances.
If you have not updated your will in some time, you should consider revisiting its terms and beneficiaries. Of course, changing your beneficiaries is not always as simple as simply updating your will. In California, if you name your spouse as a beneficiary, then you face some legal hurdles before you can remove him or her as a beneficiary or add additional beneficiaries in case he or she passes away before you do.
It is common knowledge that nearly every adult should have some sort of proper will. Wills help you make your end-of-life wishes known and can protect your family from a lengthy mess that drains away resources and helps property pass from from one individual to another efficiently. However, there are some things you should not attempt to use a will to do.
Considering how many people die with no will at all, it may seem silly to have to update your once you create it. After all, aren't you already ahead of the game by having a will in the first place? Well, yes — but that is sort of like claiming that you already changed the oil in your car, why would you need to change it again? While one should certainly change the oil in a vehicle far more often than change or update a will, the principle remains the same. There are a number of life changes that make a will change necessary and ultimately protect the ones you love.
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.
Estate planning is generally intended to ensure your assets get distributed to your heirs in the way you want them to be. All too often, despite the best efforts of a person to create a last will and estate plan, their family members don't agree. People will happily fight their family members in court if they believe they will get even a little bit more of the estate.
Even when an estate plan is carefully crafted and a will is well-made, there are numerous ways that various parties can make the settlement of an estate difficult and complicated. If you are approaching an estate settlement and want to avoid as much conflict as possible, or if you are already embroiled in a contentious settlement, it is wise to consider ways that you can help simplify matters and de-escalate tensions.
Now that you and your wife have started a family, it is especially important that you begin to think about their future. Beyond planning for your baby daughter's college, you should take steps to protect her interests in case the worst should happen to you and your wife. You may feel like you have plenty of time before you need to worry about end-of-life decisions, but in reality, it is never too early to start planning.