Ask Yourself These Three Questions
If you’ve recently moved and are wondering whether or not you should update your will, ask yourself these three questions:
The first question you should ask is, “Was this Will drafted by a knowledgeable attorney?” If you used a do-it-yourself kit from an office supply store, a discount online service, or your neighbor’s son who recently passed the bar exam, you might want to consider this question carefully. Every state has its own laws regarding the requirements for drafting a valid Will. Do-it-yourself kit Wills and those generated from online services often cover the basics but may not have considered all of the requirements for the drafting of a valid Will. Also, kit Wills and online services, though they may provide directions, cannot ensure you that the document was signed and witnessed in accordance with legal requirements.
The second question you should ask is, “Are your life circumstances the same as when the Will was written?” Have you experienced any significant life or family event since your Will was prepared? Have you gotten married or gone through a divorce? Have you had a child or added a grandchild? Have you lost a spouse or other loved one? Events such as these may alter who you want to benefit from your Estate or who you want to be in charge of the assets after you die.
The third question is a two-parter: “Will this Will still do what I want it to do?” and “Do I understand what it does?” In other words, does the Will correctly state the assets you have, and what to do with them after you die? Do you still want grandma’s wedding ring to go to your niece? Do you still want your son to have the grandfather clock? You may have promised the ring to someone else or sold the grandfather clock to a collector. If you made specific devices of specific assets that you no longer have, it’s a good idea to clear things up so there’s no confusion later.
Also it’s important to know and understand the language in the document. Is the Will so full of legalese that you can’t understand it? Does the Will refer to a trust or contain convoluted tax language that you don’t really understand? If so, explain the lawyers at Carpenter & Lewis PLLC, reviewing it with a competent attorney might clear things up and allow you to simplify your estate plan and make things easier on your family.
If you had a will prepared and you stuck it in a drawer somewhere so you didn’t have to think about it anymore, you are not alone. Contemplating our mortality is not a pleasant task. I recommend that you review your estate planning documents at least annually just to confirm they are accurate and do what you want them to do. Being proactive and taking charge of your estate planning now makes things easier for your family later.