Berman & Asbel, LLP

Life changes that could merit a will review

When it comes to estate planning, crafting a will is not a one-time act when circumstances can arise that require one to reevaluate and change previous decisions. There are multiple reasons a Pennsylvania resident might need to alter a will.

Any change in marital status likely requires one to revise a will or other estate planning documents. A spouse is entitled to some joint property, so leaving a spouse out of a will does not mean the other party receives nothing. When wanting to keep assets separate, a prenuptial agreement might be the best option.

A divorce automatically nullifies the parts of a will that apply to the ex-spouse, but a current spouse might only receive one-third or one-half of decedent's property if not mentioned in a will. One would also need documentation when wanting a non-married significant other to inherit property, but a qualified terminable interest property trust could be the best option when remarrying and splitting assets between a new spouse and children or other family members.

Moving to or from Pennsylvania means different state laws could interfere with an existing will, and those who relocate when retiring should consider reviewing an estate plan around this time anyway. In addition to retirement age, one should also evaluate an estate during middle age. Considerations may include trusts, inheritances and life insurance needs. Planning during this time might help a spouse or others avoid an expensive estate tax later.

Estate planning may benefit anyone with a spouse, children or loved ones, as there is no guarantee that one's wishes will be met otherwise. Wills are also useful in situations where one can no longer make decisions competently; an attorney may help one create their will before any expected or unexpected issues arise.

Source: Kiplinger , "Good Reasons to Change Your Will", December 21, 2014

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