Completing an estate plan represents peace of mind that your loved ones will be provided for long after you are gone. However, the process is not “one-and-done.” As time goes by, certain significant life changes will necessitate revisiting the document.
An initial estate plan includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Last will and testament
- Living will
- Revocable living trust
- Power of attorney
- Life insurance
- Retirement plans
- Business plans (for business owners)
Tailoring documents following life-changing events
As the years go by, life changes, requiring revisiting the initial plan for possible updates. Certain events include:
- Marriage/Divorces – Both new marriages and second unions should be accounted for in estate plans. Those married before should remove their ex-spouse as a beneficiary. For those who are divorced, attending to altering the documents is of paramount importance. Couples who haven’t taken the formal step yet are in domestic partnerships, or common law marriages should also take action by formally naming their partners as beneficiaries.
- Children – New family dynamics are created in remarriages. New spouses with children from a previous relationship or marriage may necessitate including them in the estate plan. Conversely, disinheriting offspring for any reason should also require proactive steps. Simply put, as the family tree grows and changes, altering wills and other documents, including the selection of guardians, is necessary.
- Tax Changes – Moving to another state minimally requires reviewing your estate plan to ensure it adheres to laws in the new state. Also, changes in assets are to be distributed upon your death. In many cases, setting up a trust can avoid the legally complex and emotionally charged probate process.
The process of estate planning can become overly complex. Taking a “do-it-yourself” approach saves money but could result in oversights and errors. Help from a skilled and experienced attorney could secure financial futures for your loved ones.