If you already have a will in place, congratulations! You're a step ahead of many Americans who never get around to writing one and leave their loved ones to deal with the courts as they settle their estate. However, it's essential to review your will and other estate planning documents on a regular basis -- at least annually -- to determine whether any changes are warranted.
Changes in your life and family will often necessitate some type of modification to your will -- or perhaps a new one altogether. Let's look at a few of those:
If you put your will in place while you were single, you'll probably want to draft a new one -- as will your spouse. If your spouse is bringing children into the marriage whom you want to leave money to, you'll need to include them, as they won't automatically inherit a portion of your estate under the law.
You likely don't want to leave the bulk (or any) of your assets to your ex-spouse. If they're also your health care proxy or have other fiduciary powers over your estate, you'll likely want to name other people for those roles.
Moving to another state
Probate laws vary by state. Therefore, whether you're moving to Michigan or relocating from Michigan to another state, you'll likely need to revise your will and other estate plan documents to ensure that they adhere to the appropriate state laws.
Changes involving beneficiaries
Perhaps you initially designated that your children receive an equal portion of your assets, but as they got older, one of them has developed a substance abuse issue or another problem that would make an inheritance a dangerous thing. There are alternatives like trusts that can allow you to leave them money but under the supervision of a trustee who would control its disbursement.
These are just a few of many changes that will warrant a change to your estate plan. If you have any question about whether and when such changes are needed, an experienced estate planning attorney can advise you and help you make the necessary revisions.