7 Life Changes that Require an Update to Your Estate Plan

7 Life Changes that Require an Update to Your Estate Plan

Your estate plan is in place and you’re feeling relieved and prepared.  Congratulations!  You are already ahead of the majority of the population.  Although the hard part is done, your estate plan will require maintenance in the years to come.  Your life and circumstances will likely change over the years, and you’ll need to change your estate plan accordingly.

When to Update Your Estate Plan

Some of the changes that precipitate a call to your estate planning lawyer are obvious, but they can be overlooked.  After all, who has a baby and then thinks, “I should call my lawyer” in their sleep-deprived state?  For that reason, it’s a good idea to do the occasional mental inventory to see if you’ve undergone any of these life changes since you last updated your estate plan:

1. Marriage

Spouses often inherit by default, but there are a lot of other considerations to keep in mind.  Your estate planning lawyer should have great suggestions on how to adjust your plan in order to save your spouse on taxes and money concerns when dealing with your estate.

2. Divorce

If you don’t want your ex-spouse to receive your property upon your death, you need to meet with your estate planning lawyer and remove your ex’s name from beneficiary accounts and policies, taken out of the will, removed from trusts, etc.

3. You’ve been widowed

When one spouse passes away, the other will need to update their estate plan to reflect that change.  Not only will your beneficiaries likely change, but you may also have an inheritance from your spouse to incorporate into your own estate plan.

4. Birth of a child or grandchild

A new family member means that aspects of your estate plan may need to change in order to accommodate new needs.  For example, you may want to create a college fund or set up a trust.  Also, it’s very important to have your estate planning lawyer draw up legal guardianship papers to determine who will care for your child should you be unable to do so yourself.

5. Your financial situation changed

Whether you’ve received some sort of windfall, gotten a significant increase in pay, or have lost your job, it is important to review your estate plan to determine if it provides for these changes.  If not, you’ll need your lawyer to adjust it appropriately.

6. Real Estate Purchase

A home is a huge life investment, and covering it in your estate plan is very important.  From how to pay it off, to whom you want to leave it to, an estate planning lawyer will help incorporate this big change into your existing plan.

7. You started (or ended) a business

Starting (or ending) a business warrants a trip to the estate planning lawyer’s as it will certainly have some sort of effect on your financial situation.  Succession planning is another big aspect of running a business. You’ll want to clearly outline what should happen to your business if you die or become incapacitated.

There are other events that should likely trigger a call or visit to your estate planning lawyer, but these are 7 of the biggest.  Fortunately, with the major estate planning done, these updates will typically be fairly easy.

Do you need to update your estate plan? Give us a call: 912-352-3999

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