Every year (in pre-Covid times) when school ends and summer begins, before families hop on planes or pack up the car for road trips, I find my estate planning practice gets just a little busier with questions about updates to Wills. As the province begins to gradually reopen, I’m reminded that people’s “to do” lists include considering “When should I update my Will?”
It is important to consider updates to your estate plan when a significant life event takes place. Some of these include:
- New relationships – family law can have effects on your estate plan that are not always obvious;
- The death, disability or incapacity of a beneficiary, guardian, estate trustee, or attorney for property or personal care;
- separation or divorce;
- birth or adoption of children;
- significant acquisition or disposition of property;
- incorporation of a private company;
- change in wishes about a cottage property (cottage trust);
- new/changed charitable intentions; or
- change of residency or citizenship (yours or that of an estate trustee or attorney for property, in particular)
When in doubt, ask your estates lawyer. Contingencies are usually built into your Will as part of the estate planning process, so some changes in circumstances require changes to your Will, while other times they may not be necessary. Asking the question is always a good idea.
As general guidance, plan to review your Will (and Powers of Attorney) every 3-5 years, to make sure the documents still reflect your wishes and circumstances. If not making any material changes to your instructions, it is still worth a discussion with your estate planning lawyer to make sure that any changes to the law are also reflected in your Will.