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  • Northern Virginia Trusts & Estates

Why Updating Your Will Is as Important as Making a Will

The vast majority of individuals have not made a will. Many have not even thought of putting together a will, despite the importance of planning your estate in case the unexpected happens. That means that people who have put some work into organizing their estate through the writing of a will are ahead of the game.

Still, organizing a will is not a one-time project. Just as your estate will change—and the individuals you would like to include in your estate may change—it is important for your will to change, as well, in order to distribute your assets in a way that reflects your most recent desires.

Here are a few reasons why updating your will can be just as important as making the will in the first place:

1. Changes in Your Heirs or Beneficiaries

If you are smart about planning your estate, you should be doing it fairly early on in life. But those that are fortunate will likely have many, many more years of life in which the status of one’s social and family life may change. New children may be born, family members may pass away, and friends may come in or out of the picture.

Because of this, updating your will regularly is vital. Making updates to your will is the best way to make sure that your assets go to the people you would like them to go to at the time of your death. The point of writing a will is to ensure that your wishes are carried out as best as possible, but if you do not update your will regularly, it will wind up reflecting wishes that were true years and years ago.

It is especially true to make sure that your will’s trustees and executors are up to date because these individuals will carry the most responsibility in organizing your estate. Thus, it is vital to ensure that you still have individuals whom you trust in these positions, and they may turn out to be different from the individuals you named in the will originally.

In addition, you will need to take special care to update your will if you add children to the family or if your wishes regarding guardianship change while your children are still minors.

2. Changes in Assets

Writing a will is an important step in organizing your estate because it lets your family know exactly which assets belong with which beneficiary. Issues arise, however, when individuals include a dated distribution of assets that may not accurately reflect everything in the estate.

If the estate includes significant assets not in the state, they may wind up being distributed in a way that does not conform to your wishes. If, on the other hand, some assets in the will are no longer a part of the estate, the individual listed as a beneficiary may be left out entirely. It is possible to challenge the will in order to gain some part of the estate, but this can be a difficult process.

Updating your will regularly is the only way to ensure that it reflects what is actually in your estate and to whom each item should be distributed.

3. Changes in Taxes

Organizing an estate is also important for minimizing the impact of estate taxes after your passing. Some laws require the payment of large amounts of taxes when certain assets are transferred to certain beneficiaries, so it is important to understand the implications of each transfer of assets. In order to have a will that organizes your estate in the best way according to updated tax laws, it is important to revisit it on a regular basis.

If you would like professional guidance in making or updating your will, please contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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