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How Often Should You Update Your Will in Washington State?


A last will and testament is a legal document that enables you to dispose of your probate assets upon death, name a personal representative for your estate, and exercise other legal rights such as nominating a guardian to care for your minor children. Every Washington resident should have a will regardless of their current family or financial status.

At the same time, a will should not be seen as a one-time affair. It is a good idea to periodically review–and if necessary revise–your will as circumstances change in your life. While there is no hard-and-fast rule as to how often you need to update a will, there are a number of life events and milestones that should prompt you to speak with an experienced Spokane will lawyer about making changes to your current estate plan.

Here are just a few examples:

You Just Had Your First Child

A will is not just about dealing with your property. It also provides the mechanism for nominating a legal guardian to care for any minor children you have in the event the other parent does not survive you. So if you have recently become a parent for the first time, that is a good reason to execute a new will. Keep in mind, you can specify the terms of your new will apply to your current children and any children you might have in the future.

You Are Getting Divorced

Washington law automatically “disinherits” your spouse upon divorce. In other words, if your pre-divorce will named your spouse as a beneficiary or personal representative, those provisions are automatically invalidated once the judge signs the final divorce decree. That said, you should still revise your will to avoid any ambiguity and name new persons to serve as your agent or beneficiaries in place of your ex.

Your Personal Representative or Beneficiary Dies Before You

For that matter, it is also worth reviewing your will if any of the persons you named as personal representatives or beneficiaries die before you. Ideally, your will should have backups named for both. But again, it is still worth updating the will, if only to name new backups to your backups.

Your Beneficiaries Develop Financial or Substance Abuse Issues

A common issue we see in Washington estate planning is a parent who wishes to leave an inheritance for a child who may have issues with creditors or substance abuse. Put simply, the parent no longer believes the child will handle that inheritance responsibly. In that scenario, you can revise your will to leave money to your child (or other beneficiary) in trust, with a third party overseeing distribution of any funds after your death.

Speak with a Spokane Estate Planning Attorney Today

An estate plan is never static. It will change and grow throughout the life of you and your family. So it is important to work with an experienced Spokane estate planning attorney who can guide you through the process and advise you on the best course of action for your current situation. Contact Moulton Law Offices, P.S., today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout the Spokane Valley, Kennewick, and Yakima area.

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