Updating Your Will: When & How to Make Critical Changes

Learn when and how to make vital updates to your will. Ensure it reflects your wishes accurately with our expert guidance on critical changes.

Updating Your Will: When & How to Make Critical Changes

You know you should have an up-to-date last will and testament. But when was the last time you looked at yours? If it's been more than a year or two, chances are it's time for a review. Outdated financial and family information and digital legacy may not align with your current wishes. This article will explore when you update your will and steps to ensure your affairs are in order.

What is a Will?

A will, also known as a Last Will and Testament, is a legal document that outlines how a person's assets and estate should be distributed after their death. It specifies the beneficiaries to inherit these assets and can also nominate guardians for any minor children. Making a will is crucial in estate planning, ensuring an individual's final wishes are honored and preventing potential legal disputes among survivors.

In today's digital age, a will often encompasses a digital legacy. This includes the management of online accounts, social media profiles, and digital assets such as photos, videos, and documents stored in the cloud. Addressing these digital assets in a will is increasingly important to ensure they're handled according to your wishes.

10 Reasons to Make a Will

1. Ensuring Your Assets Are Distributed According to Your Wishes

Without a last will and testament, the state decides how your assets are distributed, which might not align with your preferences. A will guarantee that your specific wishes are fulfilled.

2. Protecting the Future of Your Children

A will allows you to appoint guardians for your minor children, giving you a say in their future care should you not be around.

3. Minimizing Family Disputes

A clear will can reduce potential conflicts among family members by outlining your intentions unequivocally, which can be especially important in complex family situations.

4. Reducing the Tax Burden on Your Beneficiaries

With proper planning, a last will and testament can help minimize the estate taxes your beneficiaries would need to pay, potentially saving them a significant amount of money.

5. Facilitating the Probate Process

A well-drafted last will and testament can streamline the probate process, making it faster and less complicated for your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance.

6. Planning for Your Pets' Care

You can include provisions for caring for your pets, ensuring they are looked after by someone you trust.

7. Supporting Charitable Causes

A last will and testament allows you to leave a legacy by bequeathing assets to charities or organizations that are important to you.

8. Choosing Executors and Trustees

You can select individuals you trust to manage your estate and ensure your will is executed as planned.

9. Providing Instructions for Your Digital Assets

In the digital age, a last will and testament can include instructions for handling your online accounts and digital properties.

10. Peace of Mind

Perhaps the most important reason is that making a will can give you and your loved ones peace of mind, knowing that your affairs are in order.

When to Update Your Will and Testament

Updating your will isn't the most enjoyable task, but keeping your final wishes up to date is necessary. Here are major life events that will require you to update your last will and testament:

Birth or Adoption of Children

Welcoming children into your life is a joyous occasion, but it also means making important financial decisions about their future. Update your will to name guardians, set up trusts, and ensure your kids are provided for.

Purchases or Sale of Major Assets

Did you buy or sell a house or business? Large asset changes can impact your digital estate plan significantly. Meet with your lawyer to revise will and trust documents to account for new assets or funds from sales properly.

Death in the Family

The death of a loved one is difficult, and the last thing you want to think about is paperwork. However, losing an executor, beneficiary, or guardian named in your will requires an update. Make necessary changes as soon as possible to avoid complications.

Changes in Financial Situation

Your last will and testament may need revision if you've received an inheritance, experienced investment success, or financial hardship. Changes to your estate's amount or asset types can impact distribution and taxes. It's best to review with your lawyer.1

How to Update Your Last Will and Testament

Updating your will should not be taken lightly or put off too long. As life changes, so do your beneficiaries and assets. Reviewing your will every few years is critical to ensuring your final wishes are carried out properly.

You'll first need to draft an amendment known as a codicil to update your will. This separate legal document explicitly outlines what changes you want to make or your existing will. Be specific about which sections or provisions you want to alter or revoke in the codicil. Have the will signed and witnessed according to the laws of your state. Your executor and beneficiaries should also receive copies of any codicils so they are aware of the changes.

Sometimes, the changes you must make are significant enough to draft an entirely new will. This is often a good idea if it's been many years since you created your original will or if your life circumstances have changed dramatically (e.g., through marriage, divorce, or the birth of children).

Revoke and destroy all previous copies when replacing your will to avoid confusion and legal issues. Let your executor and beneficiaries know the previous will is no longer valid.

Whether making minor changes with a codicil or replacing your last will entirely, the key is to keep this important up to date. Make updating your will a priority so you can have peace of mind that your final wishes will be honored.

Adding a Digital Legacy to Your Last Will and Testament

As technology becomes more integrated into our daily lives, it's important to consider how to pass on your digital assets after you're gone. Your will is the perfect place to specify your wishes for social media accounts, online subscriptions, virtual currency, email, and other online accounts.

Updating your will to include specifics on how you want your digital assets and online accounts managed can give you peace of mind. Ensure your executor and beneficiaries fully understand your wishes to avoid confusion and ensure a smooth transition of your digital legacy. With some planning, you can achieve a final sign-off from the digital world.

Secure Your Digital Legacy with WillBox

In today's world, your online accounts and assets have become an important part of your estate. If something were to happen to you, do you have a plan for what should happen to your digital legacy?

To avoid this, you'll want to provide instructions or your digital assets in your will. A tool like WillBox can help make it easy. WillBox is a platform that offers digital legacy services to specify what should happen to your online accounts and digital property after you are gone. We will help you designate beneficiaries to inherit access to social media profiles, email accounts, cloud storage, website accounts, subscription services, and other online accounts.

Register with us today to learn how we can help you create a digital will to safeguard your loved one's future.

Our service

At WillBox.me, we provide a complete digital estate planning service that helps you organize and manage your digital assets, so they can be accessed and transferred by your loved ones after you pass away or become incapacitated. Our service includes creating a digital inventory, determining who will have access, providing instructions on how to manage your assets, and securely storing your digital estate plan.

Subscribe to our service today, and gain peace of mind that your legacy will be protected.