Do You Need A New Will?

Has Your Life Changed Since You’ve Done Your Will?
5 Questions to Help You in Doing a Will Review

When you prepare your Will, you base your provisions upon current circumstances. The passage of time brings about many changes – both anticipated and unforseen – which may create the need to revise your previous arrangements. Failure to modify your Will could bring unnecessary distress or difficulty to your loved ones.

Fortunately, your Will is never final until it takes effect.  Have your attorney make the necessary revisions. You might want to keep in touch with your life insurance agent, accountant and trust officer and let them help you, as they probably can, with any changes in your estate plans. Keep your updated Will where it is safe but accessible when changes are needed.

To assist you in deciding when you should review your Will, we have put together the following checklist of “signals” – occasions when you need to review your Will and make the necessary modifications. Ask yourself these questions:

Question 1. Has your personal life or have your family circumstances changed?
More specifically, have you experienced any of the
following changes in your family or personal life?

  • Marriage – Marriage, like a business, brings about legal relationships which may conflict with a Will made prior to marriage.
  • Birth or Adoption – Birth or adoption of a child is always a reason to review a Will. Although a child born after your Will was drafted is generally protected from accidental disinheritance, the law’s “rewriting” of a forgetful parent’s Will may bring unfair results.
  • Remarriage, widowhood, divorce – A change in marital status could nullify a Will in whole or in part, or increase the risk of costly disputes.
  • Death – Loss of a loved one may require a reshaping of the plans for the distribution of your property.
  • Guardianship – The individual you named as guardian for your children may have moved away or no longer be able to serve. A new choice will be in order.
  • Children’s Education – As the children grow older, you may want to make special provisions to insure that they can complete their education in the event of your death.
  • Adult Children – Your Will may reflect old assumptions about a young child’s capabilities – or lack of capabilities – that are no longer warranted. As your cycle of life continues, you’ll want to make the appropriate revisions in your Will.

Question 2. Has your financial situation changed?
Consider whether the following or similar changes in financial status apply to you.

  • Purchase of Real Estate – Whenever you acquire real property in another state, it’s best to have your attorney review your Will to make sure it will be effective in that state.
  • Buying or Selling a Business – If you’ve entered into a partnership or acquired a controlling interest in a corporation, planning that was adequate when you drew up your Will may fall short of what’s needed to keep the business going after your death.
    Disposing of a business interest may require you to revise bequests that passed a business interest on to a beneficiary. Proceeds from the sale may greatly change the size of your estate, throwing your Will out of balance.
  • Property Value – The unequal impact of inflation on the value of different assets in your estate can distort the fairness of bequests you have made.
    The value of securities is subject to great swings in value. Your specific holdings may change radically over the years. You should review bequests of stock to make sure that they are still in line with your wishes.
  • Retirement – When you retire, you may decide to sell certain assets, alter your investment program and otherwise rearrange your property. All this can have a great effect on dispositions in your Will.

Question 3. Has your spouse revised his/her Will?
Consider whether the following or similar changes in financial status apply to you.

  • Spouse’s Will – Both husband and wife should coordinate their Wills and estate plans to make the most of what they own in terms of tax savings and family protection. When one spouse revises a Will, the other spouse must review his or her own Will in light of those revisions.

Question 4. Are you facing new or changing tax laws?

  • Moving to another state – State laws differ so much that you should consult an attorney when you plan to change your residence from one state to another. While a Will drawn in another state may still be valid, a new Will may be advisable.
  • Tax law revisions – Although large estates continue to face heavy taxation, Federal estate and gift tax changes now make it possible for more and more people to leave tax-free estates, or reduce the tax bite substantially. But the benefits of the law may not be automatic; you may have to take affirmative steps in your Will to take advantage of these tax breaks.

Question 5.  Are you considering making a Charitable Bequest in your Will?
To make a charitable bequest – When you are considering a charitable bequest in your Will, you’ll be interested to know that there are a number of ways to accomplish this goal. You may:

  • Make a gift of cash. You might simply state that you wish to leave a specific cash amount to the Janaka Foundation. Or it might be stated as a certain percentage of your estate. It could be the amount left after all other beneficiaries have received their bequests – the “residue” of your estate.
  • Make a gift of property. You may want to give us specific property such as stocks, life insurance or real estate.
  • Make a gift in trust. You can arrange to leave cash or property to a beneficiary for his or her life and then have the property pass to the Janaka Foundation upon the beneficiary’s death. Or you can give cash or property to us for a period of time and then have the property pass to a beneficiary. A trust arrangement allows you to design a charitable gift in a wide variety of ways.

As with gifts made during life, deep satisfaction is not the only benefit derived from your contribution. There may be tax advantages to charitable giving as well. We would be glad to sit down with you, your legal and tax advisors to discuss the best strategy in your particular circumstances.

Does one (or more) of the situations described above apply to you? If so, changes in your life are significant enough to warrant a review of your Will.

Take the precaution of conferring with your attorney to verify that your Will is legally sound and financially practical. Remember, by insuring that your Will is an accurate reflection of your wishes, you have peace of mind knowing your loved ones are safeguarded … and that it will be your Will that is done.

For further information about how you can perpetuate your ideals into the future through a gift to the Janaka Foundation, please contact us:

Janaka Foundation
Parvati Hansen, Executive Director
14618 Tyler Foote Road #242
Nevada City, CA  95959
530-478-7695
www.janakafoundation.org

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