Creating a will is an essential step in ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. However, it’s not enough to create a will and forget about it. Life is ever-changing, and your financial and personal circumstances can evolve over time. This is why it’s crucial to regularly review and update your Maryland will. Read on to learn more.
Why You Should Review Your Will
1. Life Changes
Life is full of surprises, and various significant events can occur that necessitate updates to your will. Some common life changes include:
- Marriage or Divorce: When you get married, you may want to include your spouse in your will or make other adjustments to account for your new partner. Conversely, if you get divorced, it’s crucial to revise your will to remove your ex-spouse from any beneficiary designations.
- Birth or Adoption of Children: The birth or adoption of children is a joyful occasion, and it’s essential to update your will to include provisions for their care and inheritance.
- Death of Beneficiaries: If any of your beneficiaries pass away before you, you’ll need to update your will to designate new beneficiaries.
2. Changing Financial Circumstances
Your financial situation can fluctuate over time. Whether you experience a significant increase in assets or face financial challenges, it’s vital to adjust your will accordingly. Changes in your financial status may impact the distribution of your assets and tax considerations.
If you move to a different state, it’s important to review your will to ensure it complies with the laws of your new state of residence. Estate laws can vary from state to state, and your will should reflect the legal requirements of your current location.
4. Changes in Tax Laws
Tax laws are subject to change, and these changes can affect your estate planning strategies. Regularly reviewing your will can help you stay informed about any updates to tax laws and take advantage of potential tax-saving opportunities.
What to Consider During the Review
1. Beneficiary Designations
Check to ensure that the beneficiaries you’ve designated in your will are still relevant. If any beneficiaries have passed away or if your relationships with them have changed, it’s time to make updates.
Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself when deciding on your beneficiaries for your will:
- Are the beneficiaries I’ve designated in my will still relevant to my current life circumstances?
- Have any of my designated beneficiaries passed away since I last updated my will?
- Have there been significant changes in my relationships with any of my beneficiaries that may warrant updates?
- Are there any new individuals or organizations that I want to include as beneficiaries in my will?
- Do I need to adjust the distribution percentages or specific bequests to better reflect my current wishes and financial situation?
2. Asset Distribution
Review how your assets are distributed in your will. Are there changes you’d like to make to the distribution percentages or specific bequests? Your financial goals and priorities may have evolved since you initially created your will. Additionally, consider whether any changes in the value of your assets require adjustments to ensure fair and equitable distribution among your chosen beneficiaries.Top of Form
3. Executor and Guardian Appointments
Additionally, evaluate whether any of your chosen executors or guardians have experienced significant changes in their own circumstances, such as health issues or relocation, that may affect their ability to carry out their roles effectively. It’s essential to have open and honest discussions with potential executors and guardians to confirm their willingness and capability to fulfill these crucial responsibilities.
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4. Healthcare Directives
Don’t forget to review your healthcare directives, such as:
- Living will
- Medical power of attorney
- Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders
- Organ donation preferences
Ensure that your wishes for medical treatment and end-of-life care are accurately reflected.
How to Update Your Maryland Will
Updating your Maryland will involves several steps:
1. Consult an Attorney
It’s important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney who specializes in Maryland law. They can provide legal guidance and ensure that your will complies with all relevant state regulations.
2. Review and Identify Changes
Sit down with your attorney and review your current will together. Identify the specific changes you want to make, such as:
- Updated beneficiaries
- Altered asset distribution
- Revised executor appointments
- Changes in specific bequests or legacies
- Modifications to guardianship provisions for minor children
- Inclusion of new assets acquired since your last update
- Adjustments to charitable donations or organizations
- Updates to provisions for digital assets and online accounts
3. Create a Codicil or Rewrite the Will
Depending on the extent of the changes, your attorney may recommend either creating a codicil (an amendment) to your existing will or rewriting the entire will. A codicil is suitable for minor changes, while a major overhaul may require a new will.
4. Sign and Execute the Updated Will
Once the changes have been made, you’ll need to sign and execute the updated will in accordance with Maryland’s legal requirements. This typically involves signing the will in the presence of witnesses and a notary public.
5. Keep Your Executor Informed
Ensure that your executor is aware of the changes to your will and knows where to locate the updated document when needed. Additionally, maintaining open lines of communication with your chosen executor is essential. Inform them not only about the changes in your will but also provide them with any necessary instructions, contact details for your attorney, and any other relevant information that will assist them in executing your wishes accurately and efficiently. This ensures a smoother transition of responsibilities and minimizes potential confusion during the probate process.Top of Form
Regularly reviewing and updating your Maryland will is a critical aspect of responsible estate planning. Life is dynamic, and your will should reflect your current circumstances and intentions. By addressing life changes, financial adjustments, and legal considerations, you can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and provide peace of mind for your loved ones.
Contact Blackford & Flohr for the Best Maryland Probate Attorney Services
For comprehensive estate planning, probate, and legal advice in Maryland, contact Blackford & Flohr. Our experienced team is dedicated to providing the highest level of service and ensuring your wishes are carried out with the utmost care and professionalism.