Planning for the future can feel frustrating, uncomfortable, and intimidating, so let us help take the guesswork out of it. If you have an estate plan and are wondering or worried if it’s time to update your will, this legal guide will help explain it. If you need help with estate planning or just have a question, do not hesitate to contact us for an initial consultation (don’t worry—it’s free).

If you have a will in place or are thinking about estate planning, that’s a great first step. However, as life changes, you will needs to be revised to change with it. Like car maintenance, your estate plan will run smoothly and get you where you want to go if you check on it on regular intervals. Though we recommend revisiting and sitting down with your will (or estate lawyer) every year, your estate plans will almost certainly need changes when these life events occur:

If you get married (or remarried)

If you get married or remarried, you will want to make sure your will includes your new spouse. Though North Carolina law guarantees that your spouse will inherit some portion of your estate, you’ll want to include them in your will if you want to ensure your spouse receives all of it. Unfortunately, spouses that are accidentally left out of wills may have to go through time-consuming administrative hurdles to get what they deserve.

If you have new children (by birth, adoption, or stepchildren through marriage)

If you have new children in the family either by birth or adoption or stepchildren through a new marriage, you’ll want to update your will to include them. Forgetting to add children or stepchildren to your will can risk them not inheriting the property and assets you want or (in the case of stepchildren) anything at all.

If you get separated or divorced

If you get separated or divorced, you’ll want to update your estate to adjust for your new arrangement.

If you become sick or disabled

If you become sick or disabled, it’s a good time to revisit and update your will, medical directives, and estate plans.

If you start a new business or inherit a business interest

If you start a new business or inherit a business interest, you’ll want to update your will to address your new business. That is especially important if your hope is for the business to continue after your death.

If your spouse, children, or loved ones dies

If your spouse or loved one dies, that is a helpful time to revisit your will and update your beneficiaries.

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