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Making Sense Out of Dollars

Will It?

Joel Lerner, Columnist
Posted 3/19/21

Part 11 of 12

Do I Need To Examine My Will In The Future?

Because personal and family circumstances change, you should review your will at least once every five years to make certain that it …

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Making Sense Out of Dollars

Will It?

Posted

Part 11 of 12

Do I Need To Examine My Will In The Future?

Because personal and family circumstances change, you should review your will at least once every five years to make certain that it still reflects your current wishes and needs.

A will doesn’t have to be “forever.” That is, you can change it. And you should if one or more of the following events occur:

1. You marry, separate, or divorce.

2. Your beneficiary or executor dies.

3. You move to another state.

4. Federal, state, or estate laws change.

5. Family circumstances change.

6. Financial matters change.

7. You change your mind.

If only minor changes are needed from time to time, these can be made by means of a written statement known as a codicil and is attached to the original document. As the years go by, we all accumulate assets that are impossible to list in the will, as you cannot keep amending your will every time you purchase something of value. Thus, you need a provision in your will, known as a residuary clause, which describes how the remainder of your assets not listed in the will should be distributed.

Do Spouses Need Separate Wills?

It is just as important for a wife to have a will as for her husband. A married couple often has interlocking or reciprocal wills prepared at the same time. These separate documents are carefully interrelated and designed to meet the mutual objectives of both parties. For example, his-and-her wills should specify how the children are to be cared for in the event both parents die at the same time.

And on the topic of marriage, how you own your money is just as important as knowing what you own. Transferring assets from one spouse to another might in some cases be your best financial move. For instance, a joint savings or checking account could be convenient today, but the surviving spouse might need those funds if the account is “frozen” when one of the account holders dies. Also, the law will protect the rights of spouses to receive a minimum share of an estate. In other words, in most states spouses cannot be completely written out of the will unless a prenuptial agreement states so.

Also, a child who is not mentioned in the will may be entitled to a portion of his or her legal share as if no will were available. However, this does not preclude a parent from excluding a child if specific mention is made in the will.

Remember that planning and then making a will, is one of the wisest invest­ments that you can make in your life--and after.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“We receive a lot of unconditional love when we are born and receive a lot of unconditional respect when we die. We just need to learn how to handle the between.”

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