When Should I review my Will?

By Vanessa DeDominicis

If you have an existing Will, that’s a great start. However, as your life changes, so will your estate planning needs.  Here are a few of the triggers that should get you thinking about re-doing your Will:

  •  If you marry or start a family, you’ll want an estate plan that ensures your loved ones are taken care of after you are gone. Many people are not aware that marriage actually invalidates any prior Will that you may have had, unless the Will was specifically made ‘in contemplation of marriage’. A Will becomes even more vital when you have children. Minor children can be provided for through Trusts set up for their health, maintenance, welfare and education. Guardianship issues can also be addressed if something happens to both parents;
  • If you get divorced you should also re-visit your Will to ensure that it meets your current needs. While a divorce won’t cancel a Will, a divorce will cancel any portions of a Will which name the deceased’s former spouse as the executor of his or her estate and/or make the former spouse a beneficiary under the Will;
  • As your net worth increases, proper estate planning becomes vital. You will need to address tax issues and discuss with your lawyer and accountant the best way to minimize the probate fees and taxes payable, in order to maximize your beneficiary’s inheritance;
  • If you have adult children who are still dependent on you, you can make sure they have financial support for the rest of their lives by setting up a Trust;
  • If you’re thinking of leaving a spouse (including a common law spouse) or child out of your Will, or giving them less than they might reasonably expect, they can make a claim under the Wills Variation Act which may result in the Court changing your Will to give your spouse or child(ren) a greater share of your Estate. Be sure to consult with a lawyer on this who will be able to discuss your options with you and create an estate plan designed to minimize these claims.

Reviewing and updating your Will gives you peace of mind that you have cared for your loved ones in the very best way you can!

Stay tuned for Vanessa’s next article entitled “What Happens If I Don’t Make a Will?”….