Many assume they are way too young or healthy to have a will. But how true is that statement? Does one need to be old or unhealthy or even married to write their will? The simple answer is no. Will is designed to distribute your estate according to your wish upon your demise, and it doesn’t just involve leaving an inheritance for your children!
But even in Singapore, it was estimated that no more than 10 to 15% of Singaporeans have a will. It’s important to know that having a well-written will is crucial to ensure that your final wishes are heard and met.
Some people would have built a will a long time ago and forget to update it when their wealth or family grows. In order to have the most efficient will, it needs to be updated and reviewed every few years.
Why should you update your will?
Financial Advisers recommend reviewing your will every three to five years. Even if you don’t think any changes need to be made, it’s a good idea to review it just in case.
During the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to forget to update your will. Because of this, you may want to schedule a digital reminder for yourself. You could do this by creating an event in your digital calendar, using the ‘Reminders’ app on your phone, or scheduling an email to be sent to your future self. If you have a Gmail or Outlook account, you can schedule follow-up emails directly from your inbox. If you aren’t a fan of digital reminders, consider combining your will review with an annual activity, like filing taxes, to help you remember.
So, how often should you update your will? The trick is to ask yourself if your written will still reflect your wishes. If you feel like your needs and wants have changed, it’s high time to review your will.
Examples of major life changes
1) You have a new child.
Whether you give birth or adopt, you’ll want to ensure that your child is provided for and has a legal guardian named in your will.
2) Your marital status changes.
A wedding, divorce, or the death of a spouse or partner are all reasons to update the beneficiaries in your will. It’s also worth noting that, unlike your children, any stepchildren you may have aren’t entitled to your property under the law. If you want to include them in your will, you can add them as beneficiaries.
3) You enjoy a financial windfall.
Sudden increases in your wealth are often a pleasant surprise. However, this may shift you into a higher tax bracket, creating estate tax considerations. You may also decide to change your beneficiaries, increase the gifts you’re making, or leave a legacy gift to charity. Many individuals also choose to create living trusts. This allows them to provide for their loved ones and avoid the expense and delay of probate.
4) You have financial setbacks.
There are instances where your wealth may decrease — for example, if you lose money in the stock market. As a result, you may decide to change your beneficiaries or which assets you leave to them.
5) The laws change.
Laws related to taxes and estates can shift over time. This can sometimes make other estate planning strategies — like living trusts or transfer-on-death accounts — more attractive.
6) Your health deteriorates.
If you’re diagnosed with a degenerative disease or terminal illness, it’s a good idea to review your will while you’re still feeling well. You may wish to change your will or give assets away now, so they’re not counted as part of your estate later.
7) You become a grandparent.
If you want to provide for grandchildren in your will, consider updating it each time your family has a new addition.
8) You change your mind about a beneficiary.
You may think a change of heart about leaving assets to an heir is something that only happens after a big fight. But people change their minds for many reasons, and not all of them are negative. For example, let’s say you intend to leave a large part of your estate to a disabled niece, but she no longer needs financial help. Or maybe you’ve become involved in a charity and want to make sure it receives more support after you pass away.
9) Not in a good relationship with the appointed executor/guardian.
Major life changes are not always due to physical circumstances; sometimes, they can also be because of personal preferences. For instance, if you have grown apart from your appointed executor or guardian, this is also considered a major life event.
The executor or guardian plays an important role in your asset distribution, therefore, if he or she is uncontactable or is not in a favourable relationship with you, you may review your will and make the necessary changes.
There are many areas to consider when drafting or updating a will. To avoid any future complications, it is advisable to consult with a professional. If you want to review your will, get in touch with us at Probate Enterprise.