Preparing an estate plan is always important, especially when significant life events change your lifestyle and financial needs. Creating or updating a will or trust in keeping with these milestones ensures your valuable property goes to the individuals you choose. Below are a few situations that call for creating or updating estate documents.

When You Should Prepare an Estate Plan

1. Getting Married

Spouses are granted automatic inheritance rights in New York.  Until the time you have children, this means your spouse will receive the entire estate when you pass, which may not conform to your wishes. If you want to leave assets to other family members or sentimental items to a friend, writing a will is the only way to ensure those wishes are respected.  Equally as important, we recommend that you review all of your assets to make sure they will be distributed as you desire.  Moreover, a Power of Attorney, as well as a Healthcare Proxy might be appropriate.  

2. Having Kids


Children depend on their parents to meet their physical, emotional, and financial needs, so it's important to ensure they're cared for in case something happens to you. Writing a will allows you to name a guardian to care for your child if both you and your spouse both pass away, as well as to continue providing for them financially.

During this process, you may decide to establish a trust to manage your assets until your child is grown. This offers more control over the wealth you’ve built and reduces the risk of someone else using it for their own gain.

3. Getting Divorced

Fortunately, a divorce automatically nullifies any portion of your will that would have benefited your spouse. However, those assets will be distributed according to your state’s intestate laws unless there are other provisions in place. Rewriting your will after a divorce ensures that the assets your spouse would have received go to the friends and family members you choose.  Powers of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy will also need to be updated.  

4. Gaining or Losing Significant Assets

If your financial circumstances have changed significantly, whether due to income fluctuations, major purchases, or an inheritance, writing a will can prevent major conflicts between family members after you pass away. Along with damaging relationships between your loved ones, these legal conflicts can also consume a large portion of your estate.

Your estate plan should accurately reflect these assets, so you should also update your will if you lose or sell important belongings. This will save your executor the trouble of trying to track down anything you no longer own.


With over 60 years of experience serving clients throughout the Rochester, NY, area, Pelkey & Pelkey, P.C. has the skills to ensure your estate plan accurately reflects your wishes. They provide affordable legal advice tailored to your unique situation. Visit their website for more on their estate planning services, or call (585) 544-3440 to schedule a consultation.