Much of life is outside of our control. Unforeseen circumstances, which can be widespread and disruptive, may abruptly alter the direction of our life.
Having an estate plan in place as you navigate choppy waters can offer peace of mind – a confidence that, no matter how things turn out, your loved ones will be protected and your wishes will be respected. But estate plans need to be reviewed and updated in order to account for recent changes. When reviewing an estate plan, where do you begin? Here are some starting points.
Significant changes to your assets
One key benefit of an estate plan is the ability to direct valuable assets or prized possessions to the right people. If you have recently acquired something of note – such as new real estate or a family heirloom – or one of those assets significantly changed in value, you will likely want to adjust your estate plan.
Think about family dynamics
One of the more important aspects of estate planning is choosing who should fill important roles, such as:
- Health care agent
People often rely on family members to handle these responsibilities. But family dynamics change. Maybe the person you previously selected for the role is no longer a fit. If this is the case, you’ll want to make adjustments to ensure loved ones have clear direction.
Research tax laws
Tax laws can change at the whim of lawmakers, on both the federal and state level. If you want to protect your legacy and assets to the fullest extent, it’s vital to know the ins and outs of current law – not the limits and exemptions that existed when you first created the estate plan.
Double check beneficiaries
Many plans, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies, require you to designate a beneficiary. These designations supersede a will. If there is conflicting information or one element is outdated, it could result in benefits going to an unintended individual.
Have you moved?
Each state has its own probate laws. Directions that may be valid in one jurisdiction could be invalid in another. If you have moved from one state to another in recent years (or if you spend significant time in multiple states), it’s a good idea to discuss your situation with an attorney.