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When should you update your will?



An annual story could be written by filling in the blanks on the sentence below:

Famous person (insert name here) unexpectedly passed away of (cause of death) , leaving behind (#) children, their spouse (spouses name) and an estate worth an estimated (insert some number of millions of dollars) . They died without a will.

The list of celebrities who died without will is long and continues to grow every year. And even some, who initially make a will, can fail to update their documents. It's best to make sure you leave it to chance what happens to your assets if you pass away.

Creating a will is a critical first step, but it's not a one-time event. Similar to purchasing a life insurance policy, it's a piece of your financial life that should be revised regularly to ensure it's up to date. Here are some examples of life events that should have you calling for an update.

Here are some events and times that you need to update:

Birth of a child

For many people , the birth of a child is the impetus to first put together a will. It is a critical step to protecting your child, especially when they are minors and you must be a guardian for them. You will be updated for each new child, as you may have different wishes on guardianship as your life changes. For example, let's say a couple who wrote their will after their first two children, and then never updated it again for 20 years after they had two more children. If anything happened to the couple, their youngest two children would not get anything from their estate and their assets would be split between the two oldest children.

Some states will allow you to write and will leave your assets to all of your children, in equal parts, and thus would update automatically upon the birth of additional children, but consult an estate planning attorney to see if that's possible where you live.

Marriage or divorce

When you get married, it's likely a major change in who you're sharing your financial life with. Many young people who have gotten may have their property amongst other people or other members, but now have a spouse that should be included. Similarly, if you and your spouse are divorcing, you should create a new one that will dictate your wishes as a single person

Moving

State laws vary widely, so if you move to a new state, it's time to update your will. A will may be valid in one state, but may be invalid in another, leaving the fate of your wishes to a judge in your new state. This is especially important if you move to a state that has an inheritance or estate tax. While the federal estate and gift tax exemption is now at $ 1

1.4 million per individual, many states have much lower limits and thus the tax impacts many more people.

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A large cash infusion

Perhaps the company you work for is public, giving you more money in one year than you earned in the previous decade. If you have an event that dramatically increases your net worth, it's time to update your will.

You may have new gifts for charitable giving you want to put in writing.

And will update you periodically

It's so easy to have many changes happen, and not that what you wrote five years ago is wildly out of date. Set and annual calendar reminder to review your will. Pull it out, read it, and make sure everything in the still makes sense. If it does, tuck it back away until next year. Having a periodic review can help you avoid missing significant life changes.

If you don't have any, you have many options to create one. As an added feature for those who have life insurance protection in place with a Port Term policy issued by MassMutual, the Haven Life Plus rider, included in the Haven Term policy, offers access to a digital will for policyholders and their partners at no cost from Trust & Will. With the service, you can create your will in minutes, store online and update anytime.

Ryan Frailich, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ professional, runs Deliberate Finances, a fee-only financial planning firm which specializes in helping young couples and educators plan for their financial lives. When not working, Ryan is exploring New Orleans, running with his dog Dodger, or building block towers with his young son. Opinions are his own. This article is sponsored by Haven Life Insurance Agency.

Haven Life Insurance Agency does not provide, nor is the information here written or intended as, specific tax or legal advice.

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC17DTC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111 and offered exclusively through Port Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Policy and rider numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY-1017. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527

Port Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider which is included as part of the Port Term policy. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the commission of the benefits and services made accessible by the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners).

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC17DTC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111 and offered exclusively through Port Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Policy and rider numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. In New York, Harbor Term is DTC-NY 1017. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527.


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