A will is one of the most important estate planning documents. Its main function is to explain what is supposed to happen to your possessions when you die. A will also allows you to appoint an executor who will be in charge of managing your affairs after your death and to name guardians for minor children.
While a will is an important document, it is not set in stone. It doesn’t go into effect until after your death, so if you change your mind about something you put in your will, you can make these changes at any time. Here is some guidance about when you should first write your will, as well as when and how often you should review it.
When To Write a Will
It is better to write your will sooner than later. Ideally, everyone would fill one out upon reaching the age of 18 and attaining legal status. While everyone hopes to live for a long time, life is unpredictable and death can occur at any age, often without warning.
If you don’t make out a will, the court has no choice but to make decisions about the disposition of your property, guardianship of your children, and administration of your estate on your behalf. It will distribute your possessions according to the laws of intestacy in your state. “Intestacy” is the legal term for not having a will, and the laws of intestacy usually state that your possessions are to be distributed among your closest relatives.
When To Review a Will
Writing a will when you are young means that your situation may change significantly before you die. It is a good idea to review your will regularly every 10 years or so, just to make sure that it still reflects your wishes.
Major life changes can change the wishes that you originally expressed in your will. Therefore, you should review it in the following circumstances:
- Birth or adoption of a child
- Moving to another state
- Buying or selling a business
- Receiving an inheritance
- Receiving a terminal diagnosis
Generally speaking, wills should be written early and reviewed often to reflect the different stages of life that you are going through. If you don’t have to make any changes upon review, great! Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to make sure it is accurate, up to date, and compliant. A wills lawyer can help you either make out a new will or review an old one.