Changing Economic and Financial Status Prompt Review of Your Will

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 13, 2019

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If you have suddenly come into a windfall, you can celebrate first, but then you need to do some estate planning to do. Any time the size of your estate changes significantly, either up or down, you need to take inventory of your assets, then see a financial planning expert or an estate attorney to review your Will, and any other estate planning vehicles, to determine if they suit your new economic status.

Your Will should always realistically reflect your current economic situation. If, for example, your Will leaves $50,000 to each of your children and $100,000 to your spouse, but suddenly you have an additional $500,000 to bequeath, you need to think about what to do with that money, whether you want to leave more to your children or to your spouse, or perhaps leave some to a charitable organization. Perhaps you would like to use some of that money during your lifetime and leave the rest to your family. A Living Trust would permit you to use some money while you are alive, and bequeath the remainder to your beneficiaries. An estate attorney or financial planner can explain your options. (See “Options for Distribution of Assets in Your Estate”)

If your economic status takes a downturn for any reason—a lost job, medical expenses, bad investments–you also should revise your estate plan. If the loss significantly affects your bottom line, you may need to modify your estate plan to reflect that change. Since you cannot give away what you do not have, you may need to revoke your revocable Living Trust or decrease the amount of the gifts set out in your Will.

If your economic status changes and you have questions about the need to revise your Will or other estate planning tools, contact an attorney immediately.

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