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On the need to update your will

If you are putting together your estate for the first time, then one of the first matters you should address is your will. Many people live most of their lives -- or even their entire lives -- without a will. In the absence of a will, a person's estate goes through the traditional probate process, and that can lead to many family members and beneficiaries losing out on critical assets that they may have deserved, or even been promised.

With a will, though, your last wishes are preserved and implemented by the administrator of your estate. The assets and property contained in your estate will be passed on to the appropriate family members, loved ones, and other beneficiaries and organizations that you designate.

But simply having a will isn't enough. Updating your will frequently throughout your life is essential to ensuring that this document pulls its weight when your estate is executed. So what type of life events warrant a review of your will?

Consider any major life event worthy of a will update. This includes getting married or divorce, having children or grandchildren, a change in state laws, a change in your relationship with your beneficiaries, or a change in the value of your estate. Even the passage of time is enough to warrant a review of your estate, as some circumstances may have changed that require an alteration to some of your will's provisions.

Source: FindLaw, "Checklist: Reasons to Update Your Will & Estate Planning Documents," accessed Dec. 29, 2017

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