Why you should update your Will and a few easy ways to do so

Why you should update your Will and a few easy ways to do so

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Making a Will is a huge milestone for protecting yourself and your loved ones. But what should you do after you’ve made your will?

While creating your Last Will and Testament is the first step in the process, your Will is actually an evergreen document, meaning it can be altered at any time before you pass away. It’s important to keep your Will up-to-date so it always reflects your current wishes in the event of an emergency. If you haven’t created your Will yet, here are 10 tips to help you get started.

In this article, we’ll discuss some reasons why you should prioritize keeping your Will up-to-date and a few easy ways to do so.

Why You Should Keep Your Will Updated

Even if you know you need to update your Will, it’s easy to find yourself letting your documents collect dust on the shelf. The good news is, going through major changes in your life, such as marriage or the birth of a child, doesn’t necessarily invalidate your will. The bottom line is: if your Will isn’t up-to-date, your end-of-life wishes may not be fulfilled in the way you would have liked. Perhaps it is no longer possible to carry out some of your wishes or your wishes may have changed since you wrote your will. In some cases, an out-of-date will may even cause you to default to intestacy

For example, if you’ve allocated a gift for a beneficiary and you no longer own that gift, your beneficiary may be left with nothing. Or if you have named an executor or guardian for your children that has since passed away, the courts will appoint these individuals for you.

When You Should Update Your Will

While the ‘right’ time to update your legal Will can depend on your personal circumstances, there are a few life events that should trigger you to consider reviewing and/or updating your Will.

  1. Having a child (or more children): Unless you’ve accounted for unborn children in your Will, it’s important to update your Will to add them as a beneficiary, as well as add a guardian for their care, in the event of your death,
  2. Getting married:  Did you know that In some provinces, unless your will has a “contemplation of marriage” clause, getting married invalidates your Will? It is recommended you update your Will to properly reflect your marriage.
  3. Getting divorced: While most provinces have laws that ex-spouses cannot receive a gift in your Will or act as your executor, it’s best practice to remove them as a beneficiary or executor.
  4. Moving: This is particularly important if you move to a new province or out of the country. Each province (and country) has different legislation covering Wills and estates. You’ll want to make sure your document reflects your new place of residence.
  5. Adopting a pet: You may want to consider adding a guardian for your new furry family member.
  6. Purchasing or selling an asset: This is important if you want to leave a new asset as a specific gift or if you’ve sold an asset that you’ve previously left as a specific gift.
  7. Changing individuals named in your Will: If someone named in your will passes away or is no longer able to assume the role (i.e. a guardian or executor), you’ll want to choose new individuals as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that since most Wills do not include a full list of all your assets (i.e. property, investments, etc.), you don’t need to update your Will just because you’ve sold or acquired something. However, if it’s directly addressed in your Will, you should update your will as soon as the change has been made.

How Often You Should You Update Your Will

There is no minimum requirement or timeline for updating your Will. However, the online Will platform, Willful typically recommends reviewing your Will at least once every six- to 12months. While you may not need to make changes every time you review your documents, it will give you peace of mind that nothing is missed as your life changes. This also applies to other estate planning documents, such as a Power of Attorney or Living Will.

This is also a great time to review any end-of-life funeral and cemetery wishes that you may have. Completing your final arrangements today makes sense financially and emotionally. By acting now, you can discuss your preferences with your loved ones and ensure they will not have to make emotional decisions during a time of grief. You will also spare your family the financial burden of paying for your final arrangements. Because pre-arrangement fees are frozen at today’s prices, the sooner you plan. The more money you can save.

Consider adding a recurring reminder to your calendar so you know all your wishes will be up-to-date.

Simple Ways To Update Your Will

There are 3 primary ways to update your Will legally. Depending on how you initially made your Will, and the complexity of the changes, you may prefer one way or another.

Execute A New Will

This is one of the easiest ways to update your Will. You can create a new Last Will and Testament with all your changes and include a written declaration to revoke your previous version. It’s important to make sure that your new Will needs to meet all the signing and witnessing requirements for a legal Will in your province. It’s generally best practice to destroy any older versions of your Will, just so they don’t get mixed up in the future.

Arbor Memorial’s estate planning partner, Willful, makes it easy for you to update your Will online. All their plans include free and unlimited updates so you can feel confident knowing you will always reflect your current life situation.

Willful is an online estate planning platform that makes it affordable, easy, and convenient to create your legal will and power of attorney documents online in less than 20 minutes. For a limited time, Arbor customers can enjoy an additional 20% OFF any Willful plan with the code ARBOR20.  Learn more about Willful here.

Codicil To A Will

A codicil is an addition to your existing Will and doesn’t require changing your original one. It attaches a statement that adds or amends your Will. Codicils typically are drawn up by a lawyer.

Amendment To A Will

In Canada, it is possible to make changes to your Will by crossing things out or adding new information with a handwritten amendment. However, there are very stringent requirements for these changes. It must be signed by you and the witnesses who originally signed your Will. If you don’t meet all the requirements, your changes may not be valid.

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