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How Often Should I Update My Will and/or Trust?

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: January 31, 2014

How Often Should I Update My Will?

Once you have a will or trust on file, you may think you are done with future estate planning. However, there are several circumstances that have nothing to do with you, and a few that do that could necessitate a change.

Here are five (5) that should cause you to update your estate Planning:

  • Major changes in your financial situation. You can make changes to your will or trust that will help minimize the financial impact of newfound success. If you have a business that’s about to take off, shifting assets can help you avoid gift and estate taxes.
  • Becoming a parent or grandparent. Once you become a parent, you need to be sure and name a guardian for your children, and create a plan to provide for them financially.  Adding grandchildren to the family may mean that you want to restructure trusts or beneficiary designations to include the new little one.
  • Changes in the law. Current tax law allows for transfer of up to $5.12 million tax-free during life or death. If you haven’t revised your will in the past 5 to 10 years to take advantage of this benefit, you need to revisit.
  • Changes in your health. Annual exclusion gifts are often the go-to when someone finds out their health is in serious trouble or that death is eminent. The annual exclusion allows for a gift of up to $13,000 a year (or $26,000 for married couples) to as many recipients as you’d like. However, the check must be cashed before death or the money is considered part of the estate.
  • Changes in your relationship status. Wills and trusts should be changed immediately upon divorce, separation, or a break up. You’ll also need to change beneficiary designations on things like retirement accounts, life insurance and other jointly titled assets. If you lose a spouse, you may need to redo your estate planning altogether. You also have a limited window of time to utilize any of their unused exceptions.

Over the past 21 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped more than 800 clients prepare and utilize simple and effective planning techniques to protect them and their families in order to avoid probate, save estate taxes, save money and save added emotional burden that comes from long term illness and/or death of a family member. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More