An estate plan is an essential step to ensuring that your wishes will be carried out now and in the future. A properly drafted and implemented estate plan will assist you and your loved ones successfully protect assets and minimize tax liabilities. One of the most important and most common documents contained in an estate plan is a Will. Although many people will eventually have a Will drafted by an estate planning attorney, it is also important to know when it is time to update your Will. There are two common times when it really becomes essential to properly update your Will.
One time that you need to update your Will is if you get married. Marriage is an exciting time and no one wants to think about potential death at such a happy moment. However, updating your Will can save your new spouse a lot of time and problems. Most individuals select their spouse as their personal representative, also known as an executor, in their Will. If you forget to update your Will when you get married, the executor you previously named will be in charge of notifying creditors and distributing assets when it is your spouse who is probably in a much better position to serve in such role. Moreover, Colorado provides that if a spouse is not named in a Will, he or she can claim what is called an “elective share.” This means that your spouse will be entitled to a portion of your estate upon your death. The longer you have been married, the larger the portion he or she will be able to claim. However, the remainder of your assets will pass according to your Will. Especially where the marriage is of relatively short duration, this could result in an unfair result, leaving your spouse out of the lion’s share of your assets when you would have preferred they would go to him or her.
Another important time to update your Will is after you have a child. If the child is one you have with your spouse, then you can probably be confident that your spouse will make sure to use the assets wisely to care for the child. However, if you do not have a spouse, you will want to make sure to update your Will to ensure that the assets are handled the best way possible for the child, which does not always mean that you will want the assets to pass directly to the child, as then the other parent will be able to use the assets however he or she wants. In some cases, this could mean placing the assets in a trust and naming a trustee to make distributions for the child.
Call us today to talk about your Will. We can speak with you about whether it is up to date and provides for the needs of your growing and changing life.