How Often Should I update my WILL
Why and how often should I update my will and estate plan?
A will plays a pivotal role in simplifying the succession process, but it can become a source of family disputes if not kept up to date. Estate planning experts assert that many conflicts arise due to loopholes, overlaps, or contradictions in will documents caused by individuals neglecting to periodically revise and update them.
Over time, assets and properties may increase or decrease, making it prudent to review your will every three to four years. But when should you consider updating an Indian will? Here are some key scenarios:
Purchase or Sale of Assets: When you acquire or dispose of assets, it's crucial to revise your will. If you wish to bequeath a newly-acquired asset to a specific individual or need to clarify the distribution of property to two or more beneficiaries, an amendment is necessary.
Birth of a Family Member: Significant family changes, like the birth of children or grandchildren, warrant an update to include the new family members as beneficiaries. It's also advisable to appoint a trusted legal guardian in the will to oversee bequeathed property until a child reaches adulthood.
Change in Marital Status: Your marital status can impact the validity of your will. For certain communities like Parsis and Christians, a will made before marriage may not remain valid after marriage unless it explicitly mentions the intention to marry. After divorce or separation, your will remains valid, potentially granting your ex-spouse a claim on your assets unless you revise it. Additionally, review and update nominations in insurance policies and bank accounts to ensure consistency with your will.
Death of a Beneficiary or Executor: While it's advisable to list alternate beneficiaries, executors, and guardians in your original will, it's preferable to review or amend the document in the event of a beneficiary's or executor's death. Make provisions for distributing your wealth to charity, friends, or distant relatives if none of the beneficiaries are alive.
How to Make a Codicil to Your Will
A codicil is a separate document, either on plain paper or stamp paper, that serves as an addition to your will. Here are some essential points to consider:
- Clearly state the items of the will that are changing.
- Use codicils for minor changes, as they can complicate matters if substantial revisions are needed.
- If there are significant alterations, consider creating a new will instead of drafting a codicil.
- You can create a codicil with or without a lawyer's assistance.
- Ensure the codicil is signed and witnessed following the same protocol as a will.
- Store the will and codicil together to ensure they are interpreted as a whole after your passing.
Where to Safely Store Your Will
It's crucial to safeguard your will in a secure location. Here are some options to consider:
- Safe Deposit Box: Many people choose to store their will in a safe deposit box, granting access to the executor upon their demise.
- Attorney: Entrusting your attorney with the original will ensures confidentiality and may involve little or no retention fees. Ensure that your executor and family members know which attorney holds the document.
- House: Some individuals prefer keeping the original will at home, but it should be stored in a waterproof and fireproof safe. Make sure your executor and beneficiaries are aware of its location.
By understanding when and why to update your will, you can ensure that your assets and wishes are protected and accurately reflected in your estate plan.
Debalina Roy Chowdhury Dilzer Consultants