How often should I update my will?

“Do I need to update my will? My situation is very straightforward, and I don’t think anything has changed.”

We are often asked this question, and everyone hopes that the answer is: “No—whatever you put in place 15 years ago is probably still fine.” Unfortunately, there are many reasons your will might need to be updated. It is not wise to leave your will languishing in a safe deposit box for decades. Please review and update your will at least every ten years or if one of the following events occurs:

• There has been a birth, death, divorce, marriage or adoption in your family.
• The individuals you have named are deceased.
• You need to change one of the guardians, personal representatives, or trustees.
• Your beneficiaries have become disabled or have moved into a nursing home.
• Your children have reached the age of 18.
• You have experienced a substantial increase or decrease in the value of your estate.
• Your state has adopted new laws.
• You move to a new state.

The most obvious reason for updating your will is if there is a change in who should handle your affairs, take care of your dependents, or inherit your assets. Commonly, though, wills need to be updated because state laws change. In Georgia, for instance, we now have a self-proving clause (or a sworn statement at the end of a will that is made by the testator and witnesses in the presence of a notary). This clause allows an executor to probate the will without the need to hunt down the witnesses to the will. This clause was first introduced in 1984; so any will made prior to 1984 does not have a self-proving affidavit and will require the executor to locate the witnesses to the will during the probate process. This may cost the executor a considerable amount of time, money and headache. An updated will would have avoided this problem.

If you have experienced a significant life change, if your will does not have the self-proving affidavit, or if it has been 10 years or more since the last time you updated your will, consider consulting with an attorney soon. You can start that process with us today by contacting our office at (404) 843-0121 for a complimentary phone consultation.