When should you consider updating your estate plan?
If you are one of the responsible Americans who has an estate plan (over half of the population between the ages of 55 and 64 doesn't even have a will!), you should also be aware such a plan has be reviewed periodically. This is particularly true at crucial junctures in your life that may require changes in how you want your estate managed, and your assets distributed, after you die.
It is essential to have a knowledgeable estate planning attorney at your side when you originally craft your estate plan and equally important that you keep him or her apprised of any alterations in your life circumstances that may, or should, affect your original estate planning decisions.
Triggers to Reconsider the Provisions of Your Estate Plan
There are many and varied reasons your estate plan may require re-evaluation and/or change. As we all know, life is unpredictable. Unexpected occurrences, whether simple changes of circumstances (new job, a new home), or major joyous or tragic events, affect our lives and the lives of those we love. Not only is it important to review your estate plan on some type of regular schedule, it is necessary to re-evaluate it if one of the following has taken place:
- Change in marital status
- New child in the family
- Serious illness or incapacitating injury
- Substantial inheritance or other windfall
- Moving to another state where legal regulations may differ
- Buying or selling a business
- Have a change of heart regarding a beneficiary
Any circumstance that alters the constellation of your family, or affects the way it functions, is likely to require a change in your estate plan. You may have to re-evaluate asset distribution and protection, tax liability, guardianship arrangements, current feelings and intentions, arrangements for long-term healthcare, or powers of attorney.
Most life-changing events are not planned for, and a great many are totally unexpected. This is why it is important to have a highly skilled, professional estate planning attorney by your side as you keep your estate plan current with your life. Marriage, divorce, remarriage, birth or adoption of a child or grandchild, a new job in a new location, a change in career, a tremendous financial burden or sudden windfall, an illness, injury or death -- any of these can impact your life tremendously. With the help of a skilled estate planning attorney, you should be prepared to alter your estate plan to coincide with the path your life has chosen to take as well as the path you chose.