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Naples Estate Planning Lawyer

Updating My Will

elderly couple updating their will

One of the most common estate planning mistakes is forgetting about updating your will. Estate planning is an ongoing process that should reflect your current life circumstances. An outdated will can cause more harm than good. If you need to make changes to your will, contact Nici Law Firm.

When Should You Update Your Will in Naples?

You should review your will regularly every few years and definitely update it whenever you go through a significant life change. Below is a list of seven situations that should prompt you to update your will.

1. You get married or divorced. It is extremely common to leave your entire estate to your spouse. If you get divorced, it is almost guaranteed that you will have to redo your will completely. If you fail to update a will that includes your ex-spouse, Florida law states that any inheritance left to your ex-spouse in the will is null and void. The ex-spouse will receive nothing, and your estate will pass through your residuary clause or according to Florida’s intestacy laws.

2. You have a child. Almost everyone includes their children in their will. Whether it is your first or fourth child, you should update your will to ensure that your property will be distributed to them as you intend. You will also need to include who you want to serve as guardian for your child if both parents pass away.

3. Someone named in the will passes away. If a beneficiary, an executor, or a guardian dies, you should update your will, so their duties or share of the assets are reassigned to another individual.

4. Your financial situation significantly changes. If your estate has grown substantially or been reduced since you wrote your will, it may no longer reflect how you want to divide your estate. For example, if the value of your assets is greater, you may now want to leave a portion to your favorite charity in addition to your children.

5. You establish Florida as your residence. Florida has certain benefits such as no estate/inheritance tax. You likely will want to take advantage of such by having a will written up in Florida.

6. Changes in the tax law. The federal and state tax code is constantly changing. Sometimes the updates can affect your estate plan. When you update your estate plan, your attorney can ensure that you take advantage of all possible tax-saving strategies.

7. Periodic reviews. When was the last time you thought about your will. A review with your attorney may alert you to some needed changes such as a change of beneficiary. It could also spark a discussion about adding other tools to your estate plan such as a trust to protect accumulated assets from probate.

The above is not an exhaustive list of all the reasons you may need to change your will. You can modify your Florida will at any and for any reason.

Updating Your Will in Naples

When you make a change to your will, you must follow Florida’s laws. Florida has strict requirements that must be met, or the will, will be invalid. James R. Nici, an experienced Naples estate planning attorney, can assist you in updating your will.

You have two options when you are updating your will: 1) make a new will or 2) attach a codicil.

1. Make a new will. In most cases, the best option is to revoke your old will and replace it with a completely new will. There are two ways to revoke your old will. You can create a new will and in its state that you revoke all previous wills, or you can physically destroy your old will. If you forget to revoke your old will, it can leave your new will vulnerable to court challenges.

2. Make a codicil. A codicil is a separate document that gives instructions or modifications to an already existing will. A codicil must follow the same execution formalities as a Florida will. Codicils make your estate plan more vulnerable to attack because there are two testamentary instruments floating around, so they are less preferred.

What Other Estate Planning Documents Need to Be Updated?

When updating your will, do not forget to update your other estate planning documents. You should review your entire estate plan to ensure that it is working cohesively. As you gain assets over the years – property, stocks & bonds and other investment assets, valuable artwork or collectible – you want to make sure you are taking steps to protect assets.  Your powers of attorney, advance directives, trusts, and other documents should be reviewed on a regular basis as well.

Call A Naples Estate Planning Lawyer

If you have questions about updating your will, you should contact Nici Law Firm. James R. Nici is an experienced Naples attorney with over 25 years of experience. He is well-versed in  wills, trusts, and all aspects of a good estate plan, things you may not have thought of. Contact our office today at (239) 449-6150 or use our web form to set up a free consultation.

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