Last Will and Testament Near House Model, Gavel on Black Table

Reviewing and Updating Your Will

Law Offices of David W. Wilcox July 17, 2023

You’ve done your due diligence and made the right choice to draft a will to ensure your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are taken care of in the event of your passing. That’s a wise decision, but did you know that it is also important to keep your will updated throughout your life, especially as you experience significant life changes and milestones? 

Attorney David W. Wilcox has been helping individuals and families prepare for the future for over four decades. If you have questions about your will, need to make updates, or have other estate planning matters to discuss, turn to an experienced estate planning attorney for the guidance you need. The Law Offices of David W. Wilcox proudly serves clients in Bradenton, Florida, as well as the communities throughout Manatee County and Sarasota County. Reach out today to schedule a consultation. 

Making Updates to Your Will 

Many people make the mistake of assuming their will is set in stone once it’s drafted and that there will never be any reason to make any changes or updates over the years. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Major changes in your life, evolving tax laws, and other factors make it imperative for you to regularly review your will and—when necessary—make appropriate changes. 

How Often Should a Will Be Updated? 

The answer to the question of how often your will should be updated varies from one person to another. Everyone has a unique situation, and while there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach to estate planning, you should ideally review your will annually to determine if changes or updates are necessary. 

The Importance of Working With an Attorney 

Everyone should work with an experienced estate planning attorney when drafting a will. Even if you didn’t and just drafted your will yourself by using online forms, you should know that having an attorney handle these matters is a much wiser choice. The legal landscape and laws that apply to estate planning are complex in nature, which can make it difficult to make sure everything is done properly without the guidance of an attorney. For the sake of your peace of mind—and your loved ones’ future—you should go through a knowledgeable attorney for all your estate planning needs. 

Knowing When to Update Your Will 

As mentioned above, any major life change should lead you to, at the very least, review your will—if not make important updates. Changes to your marital status, adding or losing members of your family, adding significant assets, and other events are all good reasons to make changes to your will. 

Marriage or Divorce 

One of the most significant changes your life can undergo is the beginning or end of a marriage. If you are getting married (or remarried), you will most likely want to add your new spouse to your will and give them their proper consideration and position on your estate plan. Conversely, the end of a marriage may make it necessary to remove your former spouse from your will. 

Gaining or Losing Assets 

Purchasing real estate properties, starting or selling businesses, and other major gains or losses of assets need to be reflected in your estate plan, including your will. These types of large assets add substantial value to your estate, and they must be accounted for and allocated appropriately in the event of your passing. 

Adding or Losing Children/Grandchildren 

The birth of children or grandchildren (or the loss of such descendants) can have a major impact on your estate plan. You will want to make sure any new family members are accounted for in your will. Likewise, if a child, grandchild, or other family member who is accounted for in your will has passed away, you will want to address that change to be reflected in the document as well. 

Changing Guardians, Beneficiaries, or Executors 

For minor children, dependent adults who require full-time care, designating beneficiaries, or naming executors, changes must be made on an official basis with proper legal documentation. You do not want your family to be stuck in a difficult position after your death if your will has not been properly updated with the correct people listed in these important roles. 

Making Changes vs. Drafting a New Will 

Deciding whether to create an amendment document to your will (called a “codicil”) or to draft an entirely new will often depends on how significant the changes are going to be. If only minor changes are necessary, then creating a codicil will likely be a simple way to accomplish them. If more substantial changes are being made, drafting a new will may be your best option. A skilled estate planning attorney can explain which option will suit your needs and lead you through the process. 

Trust Your Attorney for Help With Important Decisions 

Making choices that will have a significant impact on the lives of your loved ones in the future can feel overwhelming. Combine that with the complexities of dealing with legal documentation and estate plans, and it’s easy to get lost or confused. If you need to update your will, turning to a skilled estate planning attorney is your best option. For over 40 years, Attorney David W. Wilcox has been leading people toward secure futures, and he’s ready to do the same for you. If you are located in Bradenton, Florida, or anywhere throughout Sarasota County or Manatee County, contact the Law Offices of David W. Wilcox today to schedule a consultation.