For your estate plan to meet your needs, it must be kept up to date. We recommend having your plan reviewed at least once every two years, but there are certain situations where you should have your plan revised immediately. Here are some of the most common reasons to do so.
You get married.
Getting married, or re-married, doesn’t automatically change the provisions of your will or trust. While marriage can give each spouse some rights with regard to one another’s property, you should have your plan revised to make sure it addresses your new goals and those of your spouse.
You get divorced.
Providing for your spouse is likely one of your estate plan’s most important goals. If your marriage ends, chances are you will no longer want your spouse to receive the majority of your estate. You should update your plan as soon as possible after a divorce is finalized.
You have a child.
Most people who don’t have children leave their estates to their spouse. Once you have a child, or adopt one, you’ll probably want to make provisions for your son or daughter in your plan. (Your plan should also name a guardian for your child so that a person of your choosing will be able to care for your child if something happens to you or your spouse.)
You or a loved one gets severely injured or seriously ill.
If you or a member of your family suffers a severe injury or becomes extremely ill, you may want to change your estate plan to cope with the need for increased medical care. For example, if your loved one has special needs, you can put assets into a special needs trust to protect his or her eligibility for government assistance while creating a fund to pay for additional care not covered by public assistance.
You receive an inheritance.
If you receive a significant inheritance (or expect to receive one in the near future), you may want to explore options to reduce taxes or provide for protection against creditors, lawsuits and other threats. The increased value of your estate may also change your thinking about how you want to distribute assets after you pass away.
You move to another state.
Estate planning documents are generally valid from one jurisdiction to another, but different states have different requirements and regulations. For example, if your plan was created while you lived in a separate property state and you move to a community property state, you might enjoy favorable tax treatment by converting your separate property to community property.
If you have experienced any of these changes recently, we hope you will contact us as soon as possible to update your plan.