If you’re reading this, chances are that you have an estate plan. Great! Most Americans haven’t devised a will or planned their estate at all, so congratulations for being prepared! However, having a plan is just the first step in proactive asset management. Regular updates will help keep your estate plan relevant, and your assets protected.
While we recommend reviewing your estate plan annually—this ensures that your estate plan takes into consideration any new tax laws or relevant legislations—there are 5 other life circumstances that could have a major impact on your estate plan. If any of these events manifests in your life, we strongly recommend updating your estate plan…sooner than later!
1. You relocate to a new state. Estate planning laws vary from state to state—sometimes with major differences. From powers of attorney and advance medical directives to living wills and the requirement that a spouse inherit at least a minimum portion of the estate, each state has variable regulations. If your next move takes you across state lines, you best schedule a review with an estate planning attorney!
2. You welcome new love to your life. This could be a significant other, a new child or grandchild, an in-law, or stepchildren, etc. When new love enters your life, make sure your estate plan is updated to reflect your joy.
3. You say goodbye to someone special. As easily as love can enter your life, it can just as easily leave. While these possibilities are uncomfortable to think about, should you lose a loved one to death or divorce—or even just to a show of irresponsibility—it’s important to act quickly and update your estate plan accordingly.
4. Your assets or liabilities change. Whether your assets gain or lose value, it’s important to review your estate plan and make sure it is still divided in a way that makes sense. This may impact beneficiary designations of IRAs. 401(k)s, and other retirement plans, as well. The bottom line is that, to ensure your assets are distributed as intended, as values changes, so too should your estate plan.
5. People change. Maybe your executors or trustees have become less appropriate, or other relationships have grown and changed in a way that makes someone else a better choice. The people you assign to these roles are responsible for making sure that your estate plan and important medical decisions are executed as you desire. From time to time, it’s important to reconsider your designations and determine if someone else is better suited for the role.
Yes, it’s important to review your estate plan on a regular basis—if you are a client of ours, please ask about our annual estate planning maintenance plan. However, if any of these five events occur, you should consider an immediate review of your plan to ensure your assets are protected, no matter what.