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Your will, your estate documents, and you

If you have a car, it is imperative that you frequently take it in to get the oil changed and to perform routine maintenance. If you don't do this, your car will eventually break down, and it could leave you stranded in a very difficult position. Along the same lines, your will needs to be updated and maintained on a frequent basis. Just like the car, if your will isn't properly maintained, it will fail you when it needs to be implemented.

This may not be the perfect analogy, but it does illustrate the main point: if you don't update your will, it is highly probable that the document won't reflect your feelings or intentions years after you've written it. Frequently updating your will ensures that your wishes are reflected and that your beneficiaries receive what you want them to receive.

So, as a general rule, you should review your will every year or so to ensure it reflects your wishes. However, there are other specific scenarios that should get you to check out your will. For example:

  • If you get married, divorced, or have children, then you should update your will.
  • If state laws change or your estate acquires or loses a significant asset, then you should update your will.
  • If a beneficiary dies, or your relationship with your beneficiaries changes, then you should update your will.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that just because you have a will, everything is fine. Frequent updates to a will and your other estate planning documents are critical.

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