Dwayne Rettinger, Other Experts Discuss: Updating Your Will – When To Do It

It’s time we stopped viewing our wills as stagnant documents, completed once then filed away in a dusty safety deposit box until death. In reality, a will should be seen as a living, breathing file that must be periodically updated to reflect changes in our lives. Here are some situations where another look at your will might be necessary.

1.  A New Addition to the Family: Children need plenty of attention, especially when they are young. But it’s also important to prepare for the worst, says Dwayne Rettinger, an Executive Financial Consultant with IG Private Wealth Management. “What if you are unable to care for your child due to an illness or an accident?” he asks. “You must designate a guardian who is prepared to take custody of your children.” If you already have children who are named in your will, make sure the new addition is added to the will as a beneficiary, Rettinger adds.

2.  Common-law marriage: Living common law is much more frequent now, as well as being socially acceptable. Young couples in particular may choose this option, especially if they price out the cost of a wedding. However, in some Canadian jurisdictions, common law spouses don’t have the same rights as married ones. It’s unfair but your financial consultant can help you check the rules in your jurisdiction and structure your will and estate plan in a way that best reflects your intentions with respect to your partner.

3. Second marriage: Getting married again can complicate matters, especially if you have kids from your first marriage. You have to decide whether your new spouse deserves a share of your estate. And you’ll want to make sure that your children’s inheritances come directly from you. This is not a matter of trusting the new spouse, it’s an effort to make the transition as simple as possible.

4. Caring for the disabled: Special needs children will always require detailed attention in any will, says Dwayne Rettinger. “It’s possible you’ll need to support them for the rest of their lives, so make sure that fact is spelled out in your will,” he adds., “Think about the child’s long-term needs and act accordingly. In such cases, you might need a lawyer who specializes in such cases to cover all the bases.”

5. Have you moved recently?: If you have recently moved out of the country or even out of the province, you should consider re-drafting your will in the new jurisdiction, according to Edgar Chana Law in Toronto. “Each province in Canada has different laws governing estate succession, and planning techniques used in one province may not be valid or effective in another province. Moving to another country or acquiring assets in another country can also add complexity to your estate planning that would require revisiting your will.”

6. What Else has Changed?: Lawyer Michelle Kaminsky suggests going through your list of heirs, representatives, guardians, trustees or executors. Consider whether their circumstances have changed in some way. “For example, are they still of sound mind and capable of serving in the role you have designated? Have they passed away? These are definite reasons you may need to immediately update your will,” she says.

At the very least, experts suggest reviewing your will every five years to reflect any major changes in your financial and personal circumstances. More importantly, does it still reflect your wishes? Major life events should make you seriously reconsider the information in your current will. In any event, it’s always a good idea to have your financial advisor and your lawyer involved in the process of drawing up your updated will. Their expertise will help smooth over what can be a challenging process.

Disclosure: https://www.investorsgroup.com/en/legal/disclosures

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