Having an estate plan means that you are prepared. With a will or trust in place, you made the crucial decision as to what becomes of your estate after you die or are incapacitated. However, you must remember that an estate plan should get regular attention. It is important to review it and update your estate plan every three to five years.
Why? Because things change. And life events bring the need for crucial changes in an estate plan. Perhaps you created a will when you were single, however, now you are married. Time for an update. Or what if your spouse dies? This represents another time to update a will. The emergence of many significant life events requires you to give your estate plan second, third and fourth looks for years to come.
Marriage, divorce and births of children
What are some of these life events that come into play when updating your estate plan? There are several, and they include:
- Marriage, including remarriages: An old will may not include the name of your current spouse. And if this is a second marriage, you want to make sure to provide assets to your children from your first marriage.
- Divorce: In many states, a will is null and void after a divorce, but outlying issues may surface, including perhaps that you named your former spouse’s relatives in your will as the executor or even guardian of your children. You may want to change that.
- Births or adoption of children and grandchildren: Taking financial care of your heirs is important, so update the estate plan when new lives enter your life.
- A spouse’s death: The grief that comes with the death of a loved one also brings a void. You wanted to provide for your spouse once you died, but now the situation has changed.
- The launch of a business: You have invested a great amount of time and money into a successful business. You must detail what shall happen to it after your death. Outlining a succession plan or sale are possibilities.
- An out-of-state move: Different states typically have different laws pertaining to estate planning. The will likely be good, but your living will and powers of attorney are typically state-specific, so you must make some changes
- No longer suitable executors or trustees: Perhaps you initially named your parents, who are now aging as executors and trustees. This is the time to consider shifting that responsibility to your adult children. Or perhaps your original choices no longer share your values. Then it is time to make a change.
Taking care of your estate plan means taking care of your loved ones. Do not neglect either. An updated estate plan provides peace of mind to all involved.