An estate plan needs to be a living set of documents that change with your life circumstances or they do no good.
What can go wrong? An easy example occurs frequently with beneficiary designations. Failing to change a beneficiary after divorce could even leave a 401(k) account to the wrong person.
Here are three main life changes that should prompt you to make an appointment with an estate planning attorney.
1. Change in marital status
If you have not had an estate plan before marriage, this is a good time to sit down and put together a solid estate plan.
Following divorce, you will need to closely review all aspects of your estate plan. For instance, you may need to change provisions of your will that specifically left a gift to a former spouse by name. With a remarriage – especially later in life – each of you may have children and you need to address how to fit your estates together and structure gifts in a way to avoid will contents.
2. Birth or adoption of a child
The birth or adoption of a child is exciting and changes your life overnight. As you adjust to a little one, you need to take steps to protect your child. Updating your estate plan at this point is about more than assets; you need to nominate a trusted relative or friend to care for child if anything were to happen to you.
3. Death of a beneficiary
With the aging process, one of the hardest things to deal with is the loss of loved ones. Updating an estate plan is the last thing you might consider when grieving the loss of a spouse, parent or child. However, it is an important step. If a beneficiary had children, you may need to change a provision so that a gift will flow to his or her children.
When any of these life events occur, make the time to speak with an attorney. Updating your estate plan to respond to life changes will ensure that loved ones know and can follow your wishes.
Source: Huffington Post, “9 Life Changes That Require An Estate Plan Review,” Steve Cook, Aug, 18, 2015