5 Times When You Should Update a Will or Estate Plan

Sarah J. Randall

Author: Sarah J. Randall

POST DATE: 4.27.23
Ccha  Estate Planning

Death can have a resounding impact on people in many ways, and it often leaves families with grief and the need to readjust emotionally and financially. However, death is not only a personal issue but also a legal one. Creating a will and legally binding estate plan prevents undesired results, allows the decedent’s estate to transfer as intended, and reduces costs and delays.

However, estate plans can become outdated because of legal policies or changes in life circumstances. An ineffective or invalid estate plan can create significant challenges for heirs. Individuals considering making a will or updating an estate plan should consult an experienced Indiana estate planning attorney.

Two CCHA law attorneys at a law office

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

An estate plan is necessary for everyone. If you make no such plan and die without a will, then everything you own will pass down through intestate succession. This means that you have no say in who gets what, and the law arbitrarily determines how your belongings and assets are distributed. With an estate plan, you are in control.

Estate plans can be simple or complex. The extent of an estate plan depends on various factors, such as the person’s age, dependents, and assets. Essential estate planning documents typically include the following:

  • Advance directives,

  • Asset titling,

  • Beneficiary designations,

  • Last Will and Testament, and

  • Power of attorney.

In addition, some individuals may need to create a trust and do some estate tax planning.

For example, a young, single person in good health may only need a will, beneficiary designations, and powers of attorney. Whereas a person with children might need a guardianship provision added to their will to designate guardians for their minor children. Moreover, those with substantial assets may require trusts to control the distribution, management, and tax implications of their assets.

When to Update a Will and Estate Plan in Indiana

Comprehensive estate plans accomplish more than just directing the distribution of assets. A well-rounded estate plan typically includes several essential documents that work in tandem to protect the testator and their heirs. Further, while conducting routine reviews is important, certain events should trigger a review.

Getting Married or Divorced

Creating or updating an existing will upon marriage, divorce, or remarriage is prudent.

One common question many people have is, “Does marriage override a will?” It is important to note that a will does not override spousal rights. However, a valid marriage contract, such as a prenuptial agreement, can override spousal rights. An attorney can work with individuals to address various issues—such as Indiana’s right of inheritance laws—that arise when a person’s marital status changes.

Adding a Child to the Family

Adding a child through birth, adoption, or marriage is an important event that should trigger a review of one’s estate plan. An estate plan can address inheritance wishes, guardianship issues, and other relevant matters that impact you and your children.

Moving to a New State

Estate planning laws are unique throughout the country. For instance, some states have inheritance taxes, whereas others, like Indiana, do not maintain an inheritance tax. Therefore, reviewing estate plans upon moving to a new state can prevent surprises and undue financial burdens.

Notebook on desk for estate planning

Change in Financial Situations

Any change in a person’s financial situation, such as a job promotion, job loss, or retirement, should trigger a review of your estate plan. Updating the terms of a trust will be necessary to address any changing current or future needs.

Change in Health

Those who have experienced changes in their health or concerns about a long-term illness should update their estate plans to address any potential future needs.

Does a New Will Override an Old Will?

People want to update or change their will for various reasons as life progresses. Some reasons to consider revoking a will include the following:

  • Changes in relationship dynamics,

  • Changes in assets,

  • Relocation, and

  • Changes in tax laws.

However, creating a new will after revocation is important to prevent undue hardship and other challenges. Under Indiana law, a valid new will overrides an old will. A new will or codicil must abide by all of the same formalities as an original will.

Do You Have Questions About Drafting or Updating a Will?

If you need to draft or update a will, the dedicated estate planning attorneys at Church Church Hittle and Antrim are here to help. At CCHA Law, our team of trust and estates lawyers has more than 140 years of experience drafting effective wills for our clients and providing them with invaluable peace of mind. We also offer a full suite of estate planning services to help you and your family ensure that every contingency is planned for. To schedule a consultation with an Indiana estate planning lawyer, call 317-773-2190 today. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.