Importance of updating a will

Many people in Missouri may have the idea that once they’ve written their will, they do not need to do anything else with it. However, there are several reasons why regularly reviewing and updating a will are important. Both a person’s life changes as well as changes to laws can necessitate modification of a will.

Several laws have been passed in the past 15 years that should prompt those who have estate documents drafted prior to those dates to review them. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, became fully effective on April 14, 2003. The act requires the inclusion of specific language in order for people to access protected health information. Thus, wills, health care powers of attorney and other documents drafted prior to that date should be updated to reflect the needed language.

The passage of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act on Dec. 17, 2010, means that some of the federal tax planning that may have been included in estate documents written prior to that date are unnecessary. Finally, wills created before the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act that became effective on Jan. 2, 2013, may need to be updated to take advantage of certain spouse exclusions.

It is important for people to review their wills every time they have a major life change. It is also important to make certain that the documents reflect the current tax laws in order to take advantage of new provisions. Those who have previously drafted estate planning documents may want to meet with a wills and trusts attorney. An attorney might help by reviewing the documents and making recommendations for needed updates and changes. An attorney may be familiar with the impact newer tax laws may have on how the estate assets will pass.

Source: Forbes, “Why Your Will May Be Out Of Date,” Dan Prebish, April 28, 2015

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