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Have you read your own will lately?

Creating a will and putting other estate planning documents in place in an important part of determining the legacy that you want to leave behind and making your wishes understood to your loved ones.

Many of us put this off for a number of reasons, but eventually get around to creating our will and estate plan. While this is certainly better than never getting around to creating an estate plan at all, making the most of these legal tools requires returning to them from time to time and reviewing them for anything that needs updating.

Those who understand the value of an estate plan and a will may create these documents relatively early in life, and must revisit them regularly to ensure that changes in their lives or their own preferences do not conflict with the documents' language.

If you have not looked at your own will or estate planning documents in more than four years, now is the time to do so. Not only may life changes affect your will, so may changes in legislation that impacts estate planning. These changes may occur without you hearing about them, and can cause serious complications while those you love are already grieving.

Changes to your beneficiaries

Any time that you experience an addition or loss in your immediate family or among those you list as beneficiaries, it is important to to review your will. If, for instance, your oldest child gets married, you may want to amend the will to include their new spouse. If your child then decides to get a divorce, you will likely want to remove their former spouse from your will. The same goes for gaining or losing your own spouse, children and grandchildren, as well as others you may choose to include.

If any of these people experience marriage, divorce, birth or adoption, or if they pass away, it is wise to revisit your will and make the appropriate amendments.

Changes in your estate

It is also important for your will and other estate planning documents to accurately reflect your estate, especially if you outline property that you wish to go to specific beneficiaries. If your estate grows significantly after you create your will, you may need to amend it to reflect this growth.

Likewise, if you lose a significant portion of your estate, then it is good to amend your will to reflect this loss. This can help avoid conflict between beneficiaries who may not receive the gifts you outlined in your will because they simply do not exist for you to give them.

Your will is a reflection of your values, and as you grow these values may change. Make sure to review your will from time to time and amend it as necessary, for the sake of the ones you love and to secure the legacy that you wish to leave.

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