Article | 3:05 min read

When Should I Update My Will?

Life Events

A retired couple and their child discussing last will and testament options

Creating a will is difficult for many people. It can be challenging to consider the end of one's own life and make decisions about who will be in charge of settling affairs after death. But neglecting to accomplish this task can result in confusion and difficult decisions for your family later on.

Wills aren't just for those in retirement. Every adult should have a will. Consider the possibility of getting into a life-threatening car accident: If you die in that wreck and there is a wrongful death suit, the money won't go toward any living relatives if you don't have a will, Bankrate explained [1]. Instead, it'll go to the state.

If you don't have a will yet, you're not alone. According to LegalZoom, only about one-quarter of parents with minor children have a will [2]. Creating one is only the first step, though. Your will should change to reflect the many ways your life will change in the coming years.

Familial changes

LegalZoom explained there are many life changes that should trigger an alteration to your will, such as familial changes.

One big one is the birth or adoption of children, whether they may be yours, your children's or someone else's. With a new addition to the family, you will likely want to change the allocation of your estate.

If you've had a baby or adopted one since you created your will, you'll probably also want to name a guardian to raise your child in the event of your death.

Children aren't the only familial changes people experience. Marriages and divorces are also good opportunities to make alterations to your will.

Interest changes

If you become highly involved with a charitable organization, you may be considering leaving them some money after you've gone. Naming a charitable organization in your estate is a fairly common practice, explained Forbes contributor Lewis Saret [3]. If you haven't changed your will in a while, consider updating it to include a charity you feel passionate about, but weren't heavily involved with when you created the document.

Moving states

Laws regarding wills vary between states, Saret wrote. If you have moved to another state since your will was created, it is in everyone's best interest to make sure it is still valid in your new home state. Do this by consulting with a licensed attorney who has experience in estate planning.

Gaining or losing assets

When you create your will, you are only looking at what your estate looks like at that time. When it changes, there may be items that aren't included in your will, or items that no longer have a place in your will. LegalZoom explained these changes can happen in many forms, including:

  • Selling property
  • Buying property
  • Starting a business
  • Taking out a new insurance policy
  • Starting a new pension plan

If you have done any of these things, or another similar one, since you last updated your will, it's time to make some more changes.

Every five years

There's a good chance that, amidst the excitement of a marriage, the birth of a child or the beginning of a new business venture, you neglect to make the necessary changes to your will. While this is not ideal, it's normal for most people to avoid planning out what will happen following their death. If you aren't one to pull out your will after every change, it's a good idea to review it regularly. The Chicago Tribute suggests doing this every five years, to make sure it's updated properly [4].

[1]. Should you have a will?
[2]. Top Reasons to Update Your Will Today
[3]. Updating Your Will: A Small Step That Goes A Long Way
[4]. Checklist for updating, organizing estate planning documents


The information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as the opinion of Central Bancompany, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and does not imply endorsement or support of any of the mentioned information, products, services, or providers. All information presented is without any representation, guaranty, or warranty regarding the accuracy, relevance, or completeness of the information.