Updating wills

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Another benefit of trusts over wills is that the former can operate during your lifetime.

A trust can include provisions for gifting assets to heirs or charities and contain legally binding instructions for how your money and care should be handled if you become incapacitated, Fricker said.

Grandchildren enter the picture, as do second spouses and sons-in-law.

Estate and gift tax exclusion limits move up and down.

A recent Consumer Reports survey found that 86% of respondents who had wills or other estate documents hadn’t updated them within the past five years.

“Sometimes, people don’t get around to doing it, and then it hurts them,” he said.Note that individual situations vary, and the laws governing these documents vary from state to state. Make sure to update yours if you divorce, or if your beneficiaries change.If your nephew develops a gambling problem, for example, you might need to rethink leaving him the bulk of your estate.Wills alone cannot address these nuances, Fricker said, for various reasons.For one thing, the will’s executor is a limited-time position, whose job finishes once the assets go through probate.

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