If you have made a will, you have taken the first step in the right direction of making sure that your affairs are handled in accordance with your preferences at the time of your death. Making a will is just one of many steps, however. It is important that you review your will once in a while, and that you update it as needed to reflect significant changes that may take place throughout the course of your lifetime. If you can, review your will every three or four years so that you can make any desired changes right away. At the very least, review and update your will in conjunction with the following events:
- The birth or adoption of a child. In Kansas, a will made by a person before the birth or adoption of their child is revoked upon the birth or adoption of the child. When you revise your will to add your child as a beneficiary, you can also create a trust for their benefit, and, perhaps even more importantly, name a guardian for them in the event that they lose both parents at the same time. Each time your family grows, your will should be updated to provide for the newest addition to the family.
- Marriage, divorce, or remarriage. If you get married, any will that you made prior to the marriage is revoked. If you get divorced, your will also needs to be changed because the provisions that apply to your former spouse will be revoked. If you have children, you may want to set up trusts in your will after your divorce to ensure that their shares of your assets are managed for their benefit by someone that you trust. Remarriage should trigger yet another revision of your will, especially if you wish to include your new spouse and any children that they may bring to the relationship from a previous marriage.
- Middle age and retirement. Even if your family situation has remained stable for years and your will includes your spouse and your children, it is a good idea to revisit it as you approach middle age, and again after that when you retire. During these revisions, you may want to use some different estate planning tools like trusts, add grandchildren as beneficiaries to your will, and possibly add health care documents like a health care power of attorney and a living will.
- Death of a spouse. If your spouse dies, your will should be updated to reflect that change and to add any health care documents that you do not yet have. You may even want to add a power of attorney at this point in time. Review your entire will, to ensure that it still reflects your wishes, and change it if it does not.
When it is time for you to update your will, a knowledgeable Kansas probate attorney can help you to make any changes that you need to make. They can also provide you with information about trusts, health care documents, and other estate planning tools, and help you decide whether and when to incorporate them into your estate plan. Arrange an initial consultation with Wichita attorney J. Joseph Weber today, by calling (316) 265-7802, or by contacting us through our website. Appointments are available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and occasionally in the evenings or on weekends.