It’s liberating to have a will or living trust based estate plan in place protect your family’s future. However, creating an estate plan isn’t a one-time event. To ensure your wishes are followed correctly, it’s important to periodically review your estate plan.
At Guttman Law, we recommend a routine review or check-in every 3 to 5 years. It’s also important you contact your estate planning lawyer for a review if you experience a major life event. Let’s get into these life events and why they require changes to your estate plan.
1. Birth or Adoption of a Child or Grandchild
The birth or adoption of a child may necessitate a change, as you will want to ensure the child is provided for in the event of your death or incapacity by adding a guardian and trust provisions to your estate plan. The birth or adoption of a grandchild may also cause you to update how your assets are distributed at your passing.
You might wish to change your child’s guardian or modify your plan when your child becomes a legal adult. You may want to update your estate plan to address your children’s needs, such as educational funding or special needs.
You may also need to update your estate plan as your child ages and matures, and is ready to serve a role in your estate plan. Children often take the place of other family members or friends in your estate plan when they reach the right age.
2. Change in Marital Status
Whether you recently experienced the joy of a marriage or the difficulty of a divorce, your estate plan is probably the last thing you want to think about. However, these major life events require important estate plan changes.
With a new marriage, you will want to determine which assets to pass on to your new spouse. If you have a blended family with step-children you will want to be sure to address how these step-children are treated in your estate plan.
With a divorce, subject to the requirements of your divorce agreement, you will want to formally remove your ex-spouse as a beneficiary and add a new beneficiary on life insurance policies, pensions, and retirement accounts.
Blended families can make estate planning very complicated, so it’s imperative you consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure your wishes are carried out.
3. Death or Incapacity of a Loved One
If a person included in your estate plan passes away or becomes incapacitated, your plan will need to be revised. This includes family and friends who are personal representatives, successor trustees, beneficiaries, and guardians for your children.
If your spouse or another member of your family becomes ill or disabled, it’s also important to update your estate plan.
4. Change in Beneficiaries
You may want to add or remove the beneficiaries of your will or trust after changes in your life. Maybe you want to include new beneficiaries after a life event or add a charity or other organization as a beneficiary.
After a falling out with a beneficiary, you may want to disinherit them or modify their inheritance. You may also need to modify your estate plan if a beneficiary becomes ill or predeceases you.
5. Change in Assets
Large increases or decreases in assets represent a major change in your financial status and may necessitate a review of your estate plan. Increases like purchasing a new home or other large asset, receiving a large inheritance, or receiving a large gift could impact your estate plan.
If you need to borrow a large amount of money or take on liability for any other reason, you may also want to reflect that in your plan. If an investment or other more volatile asset increases or decreases in value significantly, you may need a review.
6. Change in Employment
If you recently got a new job or retired, you’ll want to ensure your plan reflects any significant life changes. Receiving a promotion could also merit a review, even if you don’t feel your role or status has changed significantly.
If you start a new business, you’ll want to make sure there is a succession plan in place.
7. Change in Probate or Tax Laws
Federal or state laws covering estate taxes and gifting change over time, so it’s a good idea to stay in contact with your attorney to stay up to date on how changes may affect your estate plan.
If you move to a new state, you may want to contact an estate planning lawyer to see if your new state has different laws that impact your estate plan.
Review Your Plan with the Attorneys at Guttman Law
There are a variety of other life events that may require an estate plan review. Maybe your attorney retired, and you’re unsure about the status of your estate plan. Maybe you’re considering a major life change, and you’re confused about how it would impact your estate plan.
No matter what your unique situation is and what changes you are going through, it’s a good idea to consult an estate planning attorney. The attorneys at Guttman Law can guide you through a review or update your estate planning needs. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.