The Will & the Basic Estate Plan
Along with a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy, a will is the centerpiece of the basic estate plan. If you have minor children, then it is strongly recommended that you have at least a basic estate plan because you decide, and not a judge, who will be the guardian of your children if the need should arise. Also, a will can set up a trust to support your minor children. Whether you have minor children or not, a will is a legal document that designates who gets your assets and by implication, who does not. Keep in mind that a will does not supersede the beneficiary designations in what are known as non-probate assets such as life insurance, 401(k) accounts, IRAs, pensions.
A person should update their will whenever any of the following happens in their life:
• Divorce, marriage, or re-marriage
• There is a substantial change in assets
• There is a death of an intended beneficiary
• There is a death of a named guardian, personal representative (formerly known as the executor or executrix), or trustee.
• Birth or adoption of people who should be named in your will
• You move to a different state.
• Children reach the age of eighteen.
• In the near future you will start receiving required distributions from an IRA, 401(k), or other qualified plan.