There are certain events that may change the course of a New York resident’s life. The decision to get married or have kids, the loss of a parent or spouse, or the end of a marriage may all force a person to evaluate the course that they have chosen to pursue. While some major life events may occur naturally and afford individuals time to plan, others may be sudden, abrupt, or unwelcome.
Change during one’s life is unavoidable, but it is possible for a person to responsibly adapt to the modifications they face. One of the most important steps that an individual can take when life throws them a curveball is to update their estate plan. Particularly, changes in the structure of a person’s family may prompt them to evaluate what provisions in their will should be updated.
A will is a testamentary document that lays out how a person’s assets will be distributed when they pass away. While a person has the ability to name whoever they want in their will as a beneficiary, it is often the case that testator’s include their spouses, children, parents, and other close family members in their wills to receive their valuable assets.
In the case of the birth of a child, the failure of a parent to update their will to include their new offspring could lead to problems down the road. If the parent had children before the birth and included those kids in their will, the older children may claim that they youngest was intentionally left out. Adding a beneficiary to a will distribution may reduce the bequests to others and may motivate a beneficiary, rightly or not, to contest a will.
Similarly, the death or divorce of a spouse may leave an unintended beneficiary in a testator’s will. Even if a testator is nearing the end of their life it can be useful to review their will with an knowledgeable estate planning attorney to ensure that it is both accurate and valid.
A will is not a static document and may be modified or changed as the life of the testator takes different trajectories. It is not a device that should be written and forgotten, but rather a valued legal text that is periodically reviewed and updated when needed. Any adult can begin the process of creating a will, and wills are not only for individuals who are reaching the ends of their lives. A trusted estate planning attorney is an excellent resource for an individual who wishes to create a new will or update an existing one.