Millions of Americans lose their lives each year. This heartbreaking time for family members is sometimes made even more difficult when people learn the deceased did not leave behind a will. In some cases, the person had a will, but he or she made it years ago to the point it is not applicable to today’s circumstances. The best rule of thumb to follow is to review your will at least once a year to see if there is anything you would like to alter.

In the event there is something about your will you want to change, make sure you change it in the presence of an attorney. This is the only way to ensure the court will follow your wishes upon your death. Aside from looking at your will once a year, you should also make necessary changes as needed when the following circumstances occur.

Changes in the family

The first time many people consider making a will occurs when they marry or have a child. As the years go on, you may need to alter your will if you divorce, remarry or have more children. You also need to update your will if loved ones pass away. You would not want to leave a significant part of your assets to someone if he or she is no longer part of the family or has preceded you in death.

Changes to the tax code

State and federal governments change tax laws over the years, and you want to ensure your will and other estate planning documents utilize these new laws to the fullest extent. You may be able to help your loved ones hang on to more money so that a large portion of it does not go toward taxes.

Changes to personal fortune

You may come into a great deal of money over your lifetime. Conversely, you may also lose a substantial portion of your money. Either way, you want your will to reflect these new circumstances.