It is an unfortunate fact that many in New Jersey who go to the trouble to write a will still leave their loved ones in confusion and turmoil. Often this happens because they fail to keep their wills updated, which means the documents contain instructions that no longer apply or make sense. These unintentional errors may involve leaving loved ones out or including names that should no longer be part of the estate plan.

If you have already executed your will, you may feel confident that you have done a good thing for your family. However, if it has been several years since you created your will, it may contain terms that could place your family at risk of irreparable disputes and costly litigation to repair. To avoid this, it is wise to review your will frequently and update it when necessary.

When should I revise my will?

Because life changes so rapidly, a will is not usually something that stands the test of time without your attention. It is a very smart decision to create a will early in life, especially if you have children, but you should also be prepared to revisit that document periodically, particularly whenever some life event brings changes to the assets or people in your life, such as the following:

  • You may not want your spouse to remain a beneficiary if you are thinking of divorce or have already divorced.
  • You will certainly want to add a new spouse and remove the former one when you remarry.
  • Welcoming children into your family means designating a guardian.
  • If your child gets married, your estate plan may benefit from a trust or other tools to protect your assets or business against the possibility of your child’s divorce.
  • Like many parents, you may have a child struggling with addiction or other issues that would make it dangerous for you to leave an outright bequest.
  • As time passes, those you have named as beneficiaries may die.
  • If your executor dies or becomes unable to handle the duties, you will want to replace him or her.
  • You may experience changes in your assets, such as a financial setback, the loss of a business, the move to another state or country, or the purchase or sale of valuable assets.

Of course, other less obvious changes occur frequently in life. You may experience a serious rift among your family members, or you may simply change your mind about where you want your assets to go. By contacting an attorney, you can obtain experienced guidance and assistance in bringing your estate plan up to date.