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Life and Religion

Will power: Should you update your estate plan?
Keep up with changes in family, legal status
Published Saturday, August 18, 2018 11:21 pm
by Joyce Palmer | For The Charlotte Post

Everyone should have a will; it ensures that your loved ones will receive the assets you wish them to have in the event of your death.

To be clear, a will is a legal document that states how you want your property to be distributed and to care for any minor children. To ensure that your wishes are carried out as stated by you, a will must be written and signed by you and your witnesses.

Keep in mind; even though you have set up a will for your family, you may have several reasons to update it, especially if your family situation has changed such as a birth in the family, an adoption, marriage or divorce. Another reason to update your will is if you have another child after your will was created.

Most importantly, if your marriage ends, your estate plan will need to be updated. For example, if you divorce your spouse, you may not want to leave any assets to your ex. This would be a time and situation that you may want to discuss with your attorney; what changes you want to make to your will. You may also want to talk with your lawyer about how to protect your assets should your will be contested.

Another reason to update your will and estate plan is if your relationships have changed. Relationships, over time, change due to how you feel about people in your life. When relationships change or deteriorate, you may want to modify your will to either cut them out or readjust the distribution of property and monies.

In addition, adjustments to your will may need to be made if you move to a different state. Keep in mind; each state has different rules and regulations, especially when it comes to estate taxes and property. It is important, once you move, to consult with a lawyer to ensure that your will is adjusted to your new state and that it is legal.

If you have had important changes made to your assets; especially if you have had an increase or decrease in the value of your estate, you need to update your will and estate plan. Examples of such changes might be making a large investment and upping the value of your estate or a family member dies and leaves a substantial amount to you.
Or, maybe you change your mind about certain parts of your will. Perhaps someone in your life may have emotionally turned away from you and your spouse and you want to adjust your will according to how you feel about that person or persons.

When it comes to updating a will, there are two options on how to make it happen: you can revise or create a new one. You can set up your own will; however, you may want to consult a lawyer if you have doubts about the content, if you anticipate leaving a substantial amount of money to people not originally listed in your will or if you want to change the executor.

Other reasons why you may want to consult with a lawyer are if you want to make arrangements for long-term care for a loved one, if you fear that someone will contest your will or if you wish to disinherit your spouse.  

Joyce Palmer is CEO of JP Financial Group LLC in Charlotte. Telephone: (704) 543-6269.

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