The following is a guest blog post submitted by Gary Pratt, CGPP, Associate Director of Planned Giving for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

This is a conversation I had recently at a seminar where I was presenting on estate planning and charitable giving.

Me, “When did you last update your will?”

Woman, “Just before we had our youngest child, so we probably need to get it updated.”

Me, “How long ago was that?”

Woman, “Well, he just turned 19, so about twenty years ago.”

Wow, I hope if you are reading this that you aren’t in the same position as this woman, but for many of us it may be worse. Significant life events happen all the time that would drastically change how we would like our assets to be distributed in the event of our death, but we put off doing this planning for a variety of reasons. If you have experienced any of the life events below it is time to review your estate plan. Give yourself a deadline like the end of the year to create your first will, or make necessary changes to your current will.

When to update your will


Both husband and wife need a separate will. Being married will naturally change your estate plan and is the first time many people create a will.

Birth of a Child

Each child is special and different. Make sure your wishes for legal guardianship is up-to-date, and that you have considered how they will be taken care of if you and/or your spouse were to die prematurely. You may not want all of the money and assets to go to them when they turn 18 and legally become adults. If a child has special needs you will want to provide for them in your estate plan. Many decisions have to be made, and those decisions change as the children age.


Divorce is never easy, but the importance of updating your will(s) to account for the new changes to your family can not be overstated.

Moved to another state

Not all states have the same legal requirements for will and estate planning. Find a liscensed attorney in your home state to make changes to your estate plan if you move from one state to another.

Trustee or guardian dies or needs to be changed

The reality is that as we age our friends and family age as well. Many life events can happen that would make you want to update the trustee of your estate or legal guardian of minor children. Review these periodically to make sure they still reflect your current situation.

Start or sell a business

Having a business opens up all kinds of estate planning opportunities. Make sure your attorney understands how your business affects your estate plan.

Adding a charitable beneficiary

Charity will never be included in your estate plan unless you expressly add it. Prayerfully consider adding those charities you support in your estate.

Gary Pratt, CGPP, is the Associate Director of Planned Giving for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.  The Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas ( is a free resource to help you plan charitable gifts to Catholic parishes and organizations in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.