Making Your Bequests Matter

No small amount of thought goes into making a last will and testament and that is how it should be. However, it's necessary to review your estate plans often so that it continues to reflect your wishes. It can feel as if the creation of a will is one more task to check off your list. However, the certainty that prompted your bequests can fall victim to the inevitable changes that are bound to occur with time. To learn more about the need to update your estate plans and your will, in particular, read on.

When to See Your Estate Lawyer

In most cases, wills should be revisited every year. Tax laws can change frequently so a yearly check-up makes sense. However, you should also make an appointment with your estate lawyer when any of the below occur:

  • Deaths
  • Births and adoptions
  • Marriages
  • Divorces
  • Children reach the age of majority
  • Real estate and other large assets are bought and sold
  • Businesses are bought, sold, or partners are changed.
  • You decide to leave money to a charity or organization or to remove a bequest.

What to Know About Ademption

The above term is not well-known to many, and it's related to the way people leave bequests. Some take a wide view of their estate and leave things to several beneficiaries without naming each asset. For instance, if you have several brothers and sisters, you may leave your car collection to your living siblings. They would then be expected to divide the cars between themselves. This way of leaving property is convenient.

Some people, however, may want to personalize their bequests with more detail. The author of the last will and testament might name specific cars that they want to leave to specific siblings. However, a problem can occur if a piece of property is no longer available. For example, if a car has been damaged by a storm and is a total loss, the sibling in line to inherit that car will have no recourse. This is known as ademption.

If, in that same scenario, the siblings were left specific sums of cash located in a savings account, things will work out differently. Cash is treated differently, and it can affect the estate in a major way depending on the amount. If the cash in the account was depleted due to an emergency, those siblings are still due their inheritance regardless. The money to pay them must come from other estate property. Estate items may be sold, or other items of property may be substituted as approved by the probate court.

Speak to your estate lawyer when any estate item is lost, stolen, damaged, or altered. Making adjustments will help ensure your bequests can be deemed. 

For more info, contact a local probate lawyer.