You already know that you should reevaluate your estate planning if your family experiences a marriage, divorce, birth or adoption. However, there are some lesser-known circumstances that require you to take a second look at your will.
A beneficiary is incarcerated
If someone close to you has faced serious criminal charges, your estate planning may not be top of mind. However, if you leave an inheritance to a beneficiary who is in prison, you risk making their life worse, not better. You want your heirs to enjoy what you leave behind, but there’s a possibility that money and other items won’t make it to your loved one. And you want to use extra caution if your beneficiary could be sued for causing death or serious injuries. Any inheritance they receive could be considered an asset and paid out as part of a lawsuit.
A prison sentence doesn’t necessarily exclude someone from receiving an inheritance. However, you’ll need an estate planning attorney’s expertise to help you decide the best course of action.
You move outside of New York
Inheritance laws can vary from state to state. If you take up legal residence outside of New York, your estate planning might need some adjustments. Moving is hectic and it’s easy to let updating your will fall through the cracks. But moving often involves selling property and other items, so this is a good chance to review your will.
If you’re married, you’ll want to know if your new state is a common law state or a community property state. These laws may affect how your inheritance is carried out. Most states, including New York, are common law, but there are a handful of community property states.
You have a handwritten will
The state of New York recognizes handwritten wills in three circumstances:
- You are a member of the armed forces of the United States serving in active duty
- You are a person who serves with or accompanies an armed force engaged in active conflict
- You are a mariner at sea
If you have a handwritten or “holographic” will, there are two important things you should know. The first is that the handwriting must be entirely yours. The second is that a handwritten will becomes invalid after a set period of time.
If you wrote a handwritten will in one of these times of urgency, you should complete a more formal will with the help of an attorney as soon as possible.