It’s important to remember that after you have established your estate plan and actually executed your estate planning documents (i.e. Last Will and Testament, Health Care Advance Directive, Financial Power of Attorney and possibly an Inter Vivos Trust Agreement), changes in your life circumstances may necessitate revisions to your estate plan. At Durden & Mills, PC, we suggest that you review your estate plan periodically to determine if any revisions should be made. As the years go on, certain things will happen that may affect your assets and preferences concerning the disposition of your estate.
Some of the major life events that often times result in the necessity to update your estate plan include the following:
- Marriage or divorce;
- Birth or adoption of a child (or grandchild);
- Purchase or sale of real estate or a business;
- Purchase of life insurance (or termination of exiting policy);
- Buying property outside of your home state;
- Inheriting assets from family or friends;
- Change in estate tax laws;
- Relocation to a different state;
- Death of a beneficiary;
- Significant change in your or your spouse’s health;
- A beneficiary or named fiduciary develops a substance abuse problem;
- A beneficiary or named fiduciary becomes financially irresponsible;
- You make substantial gifts or loans to family members;
- Incapacity of a family member/beneficiary; or
- Change in charitable preferences.
If you have recently experienced any of these life changing circumstances, it might be time for you to consider updating your estate planning documents. However, you also should use your common sense. We cannot think of all the possible conditions and circumstances that should prompt you to review and update your estate plan. While every slight change in your life does not require an update to your estate plan, it is often times better to consult with your Estate Planning attorney before it is too late and your family has to suffer the consequences of inaction.
Many problems can occur if your estate plan is not updated. A few examples include:
- You may unintentionally disinherit a beneficiary of your estate if your will leaves them a piece of property or bank account that was liquidated prior to your death.
- If you fail to update your life insurance or retirement beneficiaries after your divorce, you may end up giving your ex-spouse a little more than you intended to after your death.
- Failing to properly designate beneficiaries of financial accounts may interfere with your overall estate plan if you have a blended family and your spouse is not the biological parent of your children.
- Young parents who fail to update their wills as their children grow and mature may leave aging grandparents as guardians of their children past a time when those grandparents are actually capable. As friends and family come and go, your preferences for who should be the guardian of a minor child likely will evolve as the grandparents get older and less able to take on that additional responsibility.
Your estate plan is not something that should be done once and put then locked in a wooden box until after you pass away. Instead, make sure you review it at least every few years and anytime when your life substantially changes. In addition, you can always schedule a free consultation with one of the Estate Planning attorneys at Durden & Mills, PC to discuss any possible changes in your estate plan or other questions you may have. For the average client, an estate plan should be reviewed at least every three to five years (more often if substantial changes have occurred). Since you have already invested the time and expense to develop your estate plan, why not devote a few additional minutes to review your plan so you can ensure that your planning documents continue to reflect and accomplish your wishes and goals.
If you or loved one needs to update your estate planning documents or just discuss an estate plan, the estate planning lawyers at Durden & Mills, PC can assist you. Call us at (706) 543-4708 for a free consultation.