Having a Will and a Living Will can provide you with a sense of security. It can feel good knowing there is a plan in place for the worst possible scenarios. But a Will should be more than a single document written once and then set aside until needed. Wills should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect the kinds of life changes we all experience.
When to Review Your Will
At Yeti Law, we use the term Forward Planning to encompass our ongoing approach to estate planning. Your estate plan should reflect your current life situation as accurately as possible. It should be reviewed periodically, and it should be updated as required to reflect any significant life changes. At Yeti Law, it is our practice to regularly review Wills and estate plans with our clients every three years to ensure accuracy. Over time, relationships, goals, priorities, and desires may change, all of which should be reflected in your Will.
There are significant life changes that should automatically trigger a review of your Will:
New Children, New Relationships
The birth of children should act as an automatic alert that you should either draft your Will, or review an existing Will. As life relationships and friendships change, you may also wish to see those changes reflected in your Will. You may find that an executor may no longer be willing or able to act on your behalf, and if so, you should move to find a more suitable executor.
A move represents a significant life change, and your Will should reflect your most current home and property ownership. You will especially want to revise your estate plane if you move to a different province, or different jurisdictions.
Your Fortunes Change
Windfall, inheritance, business success, or any other sudden influx of wealth should lead you to review your Will immediately. Similarly, negative changes in income due to changes in employment, illness, or injury should also be reflected in your most up-to-date Will.
Divorce or Death of a Spouse
Divorce, by definition, changes the nature of the relationship you have with your spouse. Your Will should be amended to reflect this new relationship. The death of a spouse represents another unwelcome change, but it becomes an important time to revisit your estate plan, as your Will may need to name new beneficiaries, trustees and/or guardians.
Change of Heart
It’s entirely natural for us to feel differences in our feelings towards our personal relationships in life. Changes in those relationships should be reflected in your Will as quickly as possible. You may also find your interests change over time. Perhaps you have developed an interest in charitable giving later in life. Once again, your Will should reflect this change.