By their very nature, wills are static instruments. Over the years, the rules have made them difficult to change easily, sacrificing convenience for the sake of ensuring authenticity. On the other hand, life does not stay the same from moment to moment, let alone from year to year. Therefore, it is important to keep your will up to date whenever it becomes necessary.
While it is unnecessary to change or replace a will on a whim, there are a few circumstances when you should consider it:
- Moving. A properly drafted will should have references to the state or country of residence of domicile. If you change your permanent residence, you need to make sure that your will is still valid according to the rules of your new jurisdiction.
- Sudden or major life change. A major change in your life, including (but not limited to) the birth/adoption of a child, marriage, divorce, death of spouse or close relative, serious disability, acquisition or disposal of real estate, or sudden wealth or major loss of assets, may require an immediate reassessment of your estate plan.
- Unavailability of named fiduciaries or guardians. If the persons you nominate for fiduciary positions or guardians in your will become unavailable due to illness, incapacity, death or an unwillingness to serve, you should make the appropriate changes to your will.
- Passage of time. The simple act of living is, by nature, a life-changing event. Most life changes are gradual, so one cannot expect his/her life to be the same five, ten, twenty years in the future. Most people will not keep their estate plans current at all times, so therefore, you should reassess your affairs, including your will, every two or three years as a matter of course.
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