While it may not be a priority when you are young and single, having a will
becomes a necessity as you grow older. Furthermore, there are a number of reasons why you would update your will. For instance, if you get married, if your net worth and investments change, if a beneficiary needs to be changed, or if you have a child. Having a child adds a whole new dimension to your will. And, without direction from you through your will, things can happen that you did not want to happen. The following are some important reasons why you need to update your will after having a child.
Before you had a child, your beneficiary on your will may have been your parents or a significant other. However, after you have a child, you may need to rethink this designation. If you do not have a significant other, you may want to leave your estate to your child. Whether you leave it to your child or to an adult, it is important to make sure this portion of your will is up to date. It would be terrible if you forgot to update your beneficiary and someone you did not want ends up with your estate. These are issues you can discuss with your attorney
to figure out the best way to choose a beneficiary, with your child in mind.
This is probably the most important reason to change your will. You need to decide and add to your will who will take care of your child, should you pass away. This is not a decision that is made lightly. You want to decide ahead of time, who is going to raise your child and discuss the plan with that person. Without this direction, your child may be impacted, and issues may arise. For instance, guardianship would be determined by a court, not by you. Furthermore, the court may give guardianship to someone that you did not want to take care of your child. It would be terrible if guardianship of your child was handed over to someone you did not want taking care of them.
Preferences for how you want your child to be schooled are important to add to your will. This way, if you die, there is no questions about it. You may want your child to go to private school, perhaps using money from an insurance policy. If you do not add this information to your will, whoever is the guardian of your child will have sole discretion about your child’s school.
After you die, your estate will be settled and any directives from your will can be adhered to. By keeping up with your will and identifying how your assets will be distributed, you can dictate what you want your child to keep and how you want any funds disbursed to your child. For instance, if you have a life insurance policy, you may not want your child to have full access to it until they graduate from college.
There will surely be expenses and costs that your child will have as they are growing up. If your child is the beneficiary of your estate or even just of the monetary portion, and you decided they would not have access to the funds until they reach a certain age, you can earmark funds for specific reasons. For instance, you may want to give the guardian a stipend for taking care of your child. Or, you may want to allow the use of the money for things your child needs and for school. You can delineate what kinds of expenses can be paid out of the estate. This gives you a bit of control, even after you are gone.
As you can see, updating your will after you have a child is paramount. Without guidance from an updated will, your child(ren) may suffer and your estate may take much longer to settle. Staying on top of your will is important because as you get older, things change, and you need to make sure your will changes with it. This will help ease the transition for your loved ones by making sure your wishes are honored.
None of the content in this article is legal advice. Please contact our attorneys to discuss your legal needs.