Drafting And Executing An Estate Plan Is Important, But Keeping That Estate Plan Regularly Updated Is Just As Important.

When you first create your estate plan, it’s a snapshot of your life at that time. However, over time life happens and things change, family structure, your assets, and even tax laws can impact how you originally set up your estate plan. 

We have found the most effective estate plans are created and updated when prompted by big life events, including any change in your personal, family, financial, or health. 

Keep these key life events in the back of your mind when you may need to update your estate plan:

Family And Personal Changes:

  • Change in Marital Status. A change in marital status may leave you wanting to include someone in your estate plan that was not in it before or take someone out that was in your plan at the time you made it. If you are newly married, we want to make sure your wishes for your new spouse are reflected in your plan. In the event of a separation or divorce, we want to ensure that your ex is no longer included in your estate plan if you do not wish him or her to be. Either way, the best way to ensure your wishes are kept is to update your plan accordingly.
  • Birth or Adoption of a Child. Adding a child to the family is an exciting time, and it’s also the perfect time to revisit your estate plan. Depending upon how your estate plan was drafted, you may need to update it to ensure your new child is included as you would like him or her to be. It is also important to have a Child Safeguard Plan in place in the event that you are unable to make decisions for your child. 
  • Minors Becoming Adults. For those with children, you will want to update your plan as your children grow up and become adults. It’s important to consider whether you are leaving your children a trust, how financially responsible they are, and whether they are or are about to be married. 
  • Change in Health. A change in health status may cause you to reconsider the wishes outlined in your living will. Updating your estate plan as your health changes ensures that your loved ones and healthcare providers are apprised of your decisions. 
  • Caretaking. If you have taken on the role of caretaker for a loved one such as a child or close relative with special needs, you may want to update your estate plan to reflect if you would like to continue providing for them upon your passing. 
  • Death of a Loved One. If you had previously designated someone as your healthcare power of attorney or financial durable power of attorney and that person has since passed, you will want to update your estate plan to appoint someone else in the event you cannot make medical or financial decisions on your own. Many people appoint a secondary healthcare power of attorney or financial durable power of attorney in the event the first is unavailable, but it is still important to update your estate plan to reflect your current wishes on who you want to make your decisions for you. 

Elderly patients update their estate plan

Asset Changes:

  • Acquired New Assets. Acquiring new assets such as real estate will require an update to your estate plan to ensure that the new assets are included in your plan. It’s essential your estate plan reflects your wishes for the assets upon your death and to let your executor know of the changes. Acquiring new assets may also affect the tax implications of your estate plan, so it’s important to review your entire estate with your attorney as the value of the estate changes.
  • Change in Business Interests. Whether you have acquired a new business interest or lost a previous one, it is important that your estate plan matches your current business interests. If you own and operate a business, it’s important to have a plan in place when you are unable to continue operating the business

Other Various Changes: 

  • Successor Trustee, Guardian, or Administrator Change. If your successor trustee, guardian, or administrator becomes ill, moves away, or changes their mind, you will need to update your estate plan to appoint someone new. 
  • Tax Laws Change. As state and federal tax laws change, the way your estate is impacted can change as well. In order to ensure your estate has the lowest tax liability possible, we want to review and potentially update your estate plan regularly. 
  • Moved States. If you have recently moved to a different state, it is important to have an attorney in your new state of residence review your plan to make certain that your plan is valid as written in your new state. 
  • Changed Your Mind. Your estate plan may need to be updated for as simple a reason as you have changed your mind. Maybe you want to change who you give a family heirloom to or maybe you would like to leave a donation to a charitable organization. Your estate plan should accurately reflect your current wishes for items in your estate. 

If you think a change is needed to your estate plan, do not write on your documents. Call your estate planning attorney and schedule a meeting to go through your updates. If you do not have an attorney to call, we welcome you to contact our office at 919-443-3035 and schedule an Estate Plan Checkup today. 

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