When You Need to Update Your Estate Plan

Preparing an estate plan can be a multi-step process which, depending on its complexity, can take days, weeks, or even months to complete.  After everything is drafted, signed, executed, and in place, many people will file their estate plan away and consider their decisions settled and the matter closed.  As time passes however, there may be changes to an individual’s family, health and finances which impact his or her estate.  Here are some possible reasons to revisit your estate plan and make updates.

Marital and Family Changes

When there are changes within a family, it may be time to reexamine certain estate planning documents.  For instance, if your will or trust names your children and grandchildren as beneficiaries of your estate and another child or grandchild is born, you will most likely want to ensure that the new member of the family is included as well.  There could also be the death of a primary beneficiary.  Further, the failure to amend your will after the birth or adoption of another child could create complications during probate. Another change could be to your marital status.  While divorce will automatically exclude your former spouse from inheriting from your estate and acting as your fiduciary or personal representative, if you remarry, your new partner will not be automatically named absent changes to your will and other relevant documents.

Changes to Your Assets

Devising a will or funding a trust is usually accomplished by working with existing property and wealth.  Over time, your assets could increase or decrease in value or you could sell your property and acquiredifferent valuable possessions.  When your estate has changed, your estate plan should be amended in accordance withnew developments. 

Changes in the Law

When you initially created your estate plan you were bound by the law which was in place at that time.  However, this area of the law can change with each legislative session and what may have been beneficial to you under the former law may not be so under the new one.  It is essential to review your estate plan with your estate planning attorney every few years to help ensure your plan isstructured in a manner which provides the greatest benefit to you and yourbeneficiaries .

Change to Your Wishes

Drafting and signing your estate plan is not a guarantee that you will want all of the terms to remain fixed.  Relationships change, and you may want to revise your estate plan to reflect these shifts.  For instance, you may have named a close friend to be your patient advocate in the event you become incapacitated.  Later on, you may not feel the same confidence in their ability to make medical decisions for you and want a different designee.  If you neglect to amend the designation, you risk having the wrong person in a critical role at a vulnerable time.  By regularly reviewing your plan with your estate planning attorney you can make sure that its terms adhere to your current situation and wishes. Our office has attorneys who are experienced with all aspects of estate planning and can advise you about keeping your estate plan updated. Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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