Thinking about what happens when you die simply isn’t pleasant, which is one reason why so many people die without a last will on record. It’s also a reason why people who created a last will years ago don’t want to revisit the process.
No matter how careful you are when you create your estate plan, your life might change in a way that makes your old wishes irrelevant. You could also have assets or loved ones without proper protection because they weren’t included in the original will.
Whether you have yet to create a last will or estate plan or made one a while ago, if any of the following three situations apply to you, it might be time to sit down and rethink your estate plans.
You have dependents without a guardian named to care for them
If you take care of your adult sibling with Down Syndrome or have infant twins of your own, one of the most important steps you can take is to name a guardian.
If something happens to you, a guardian can provide a home and love for the people who depend on you. Dying without a last will means that you won’t have a say in who assumes authority over the people you care for.
Your family has grown due to birth or marriage, or shrunk due to death or divorce
Life has a way of changing abruptly. You may have felt confident that you addressed everything in your estate plan, only to have unexpected changes shake your family.
Losing a spouse or child might mean that you need to change beneficiaries and the people with the power to take action on your behalf in your living will. After a divorce, reviewing your estate plan will help remove your spouse as a beneficiary and make sure that anyone authorized to act on your behalf will act in your best interests. You may also need to revise your last will if you welcome new members to your family or get married.
You are professionally successful or have inherited wealth
Perhaps you spent years building up a small business that has become incredibly successful in recent years. Maybe you inherited a large amount of land from your aunt who just died. When you have substantial property, you probably have strong feelings about what happens to it when you die.
If you didn’t address that property in your will or you don’t have a will at all, that new asset can be a reason to sit down and start estate planning. Periodically reviewing your plans is smart anyway, as not all changes are as dramatic as the three examples above.