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When Should I Update My Estate Plan?

Many clients ask the question, “When should I update my estate plan?” The answer is usually whenever something big happens in your life.

All too often, clients execute a Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy, a Living Will, and a Last Will and Testament and then believe they are completely finished with their estate plan. They go on their way and live their lives and throughout the years, different events happen that may significantly impact their estate plan.

The more common events are life, death, marriage, divorce, and taxes.

  • “Life” – The birth of a new loved one. If a new child or grandchild is born you should have your estate plan reviewed by your attorney to make sure that time for reviewthe newest addition to your family is not excluded.
  • “Death” – Unfortunately there may be a death of a loved after you have created your estate plan. This death may impact your estate plan, in a number of ways, i.e. testamentary scheme, your beneficiary designations, or tax planning. It is important to discuss the passing of a loved one with your attorney, especially if the person who died was a key player in your estate plan, such as a spouse.
  • “Marriage” – If you are planning to get married, you should review your estate plan with your attorney before you tie the knot to discuss the impact the marriage may have on your estate plan. This is especially true if it will be a second marriage and you both have children. If one of your loved ones is getting married or has gotten married and you are concerned about the new in-law then you should discuss your estate plan with your attorney to make sure your assets are protected for those who you intend to leave them to.
  • “Divorce” – Getting divorced will significantly impact your estate plan. You should contact your attorney prior to the divorce to make sure you are protected during the process of your divorce and once it is finalized.
  • “Taxes” – If your assets have significantly appreciated or depreciated in value then the tax strategy involved in your estate plan may need to be re-evaluated accordingly.

Creating an estate plan is important to make sure that your assets are protected for your loved ones in the event of your death. It is not only necessary to establish your estate plan, but also to follow up with your attorney periodically or after a major life event to make sure the plan is still appropriate.

By Eric J. Einhart-Guest Blogger

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