When to Update Your Will

This Is Your Life

A fellow much wiser than me one said "Nothing is contant except change". Our lives have a funny habit of changing. Given your will is designed to protect the people and things you love right now, it's important to update your will so it matches your life. 

Imagine for a moment I ask you to write a book about your life right now.

Not a retrospective, historical account dating 20, 30, 40 years back.

Not a future focused wish list of what you'd like to be remembered for in 10, 15, 20 years time.

A handful of chapters telling me about the this year you. Who you love. Who you've lost. What you dream of. What you have.

It's those chapters your estate plan should protect. 

Your life story might be the kind of complicated drama that warrants seven-volumes and a spin-off series. Or perhaps it's a tiny paperback volume you can consume start to finish in one night.

It doesn't matter. If your will doesn't reflect the chapters that are about your life in the present moment, then it's not going to do it's job if you were to die this year.

If it's been a while your will deserves a re-write, not a run through the spell checker.

I can't tell you the number of times I've helped families navigate a will that doesn't in any way shape or form reflect the current chapter of their dead person.

People have been killed off (literally and figuratively), new characters have arrived, properties have been sold, weddings, babies, and floozies have entered the picture and none of those things have been accounted for in their estate plan.

Sometimes they're in possession of a will that's 20, 30 or even 40 years old (personally I don't know anyone whose life is the same as it was 20 years ago) and sometimes they have a will that was written 2, 3 or 4 years prior. The amount of time that's passed is irrelevant.

It's about how much their story has changed.

Regularly updating your will means everyone is on the same page

If you leave your family with a will that is missing pieces, or suddenly offers up a surprise plot twist (hello ye’olde skeletons in the closet). If your will is so out of date it is no longer relevant or doesn't make sense, I can guarantee your family will go looking for answers.

Unfortunately the only way they’re going to find those answers is by engaging a lawyer to interpret your story on their behalf.

When the lawyer can’t figure out what you were trying to say, a court will be charged with the job of sifting through the limited evidence and concocting their own story.  It won’t necessarily be the right story but it will be a story and your family will have to settle for that.

Because you won't be there to set the record straight.

If any of these things have happened since the last time you wrote your will it's time for an update;

> adult children leave your care
> new babies join your family
> marriage, divorce, separation or moving in together
> increased care duties of parents or grandchildren
> a new business venture or significant investment
> retirement
> discovery of a 2nd family or previously undisclosed love child
> buying or selling property
> winning the lotto or inheriting assets
> the death of a spouse or dependant

The next time you’re looking for a good bed-time read fish out your old will and see if reflects what your life story looks like this year.

Life never stays the same and nor should your will.

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