If you already have an estate plan in place, you are well ahead of the game. However, estate planning isn’t something you just do once and forget about. Rather, you must periodically review and update your estate plan—especially following certain major life events. In this article, we discuss five reasons you should consider updating your estate plan.
#1: A New Child
The birth or adoption of a child is a common reason to update an estate plan. When you bring a new child into your home, an estate plan can ensure that he or she is provided for in the event of your death. In addition, if your children are minors, you can name a personal guardian in your will to take care of them if you die. You can also name an adult to manage any money or other property your children inherit. However, if you fail to take these actions after the birth or adoption of a child, the court will appoint someone to do so when it becomes necessary. Therefore, if you want to keep these types of decisions out of the hands of the court, you must ensure that your estate plan is up to date.
Marriage is another reason to update your estate plan. Following marriage, you should make a new will or living trust that includes your spouse and dictates what he or she should inherit. And if you’ve named beneficiaries to inherit bank accounts, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts, you should consider whether you want to include your new spouse as well. In addition, you should review your other estate planning documents, such as powers of attorney for health or financial matters. Finally, if you have named someone to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation, you may want to consider replacing this person with your new spouse.
Just as you should update your estate plan following marriage, you should do the same in the event you get divorced. Although most states automatically revoke anything a person leaves to his or her former spouse following a divorce, the best course of action to avoid unexpected results is to update your will or trust. In addition, you should review the beneficiary designations on all bank accounts, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts. Finally, you should create new powers of attorney if you named your former spouse to act on your behalf.
#4: The Death of a Spouse
Finally, you should consider updating your estate plan following the death of a spouse. Because married couples usually leave most of their property to each other, you will likely need to create a new will or living trust and update your beneficiary designations after the passing of your spouse. You should also consider whether you’ll need to create new health care directives or powers of attorney if your spouse held either of these roles.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
If you are ready to begin the estate planning process, our experienced estate planning attorney is here to help. At the Law Office of Angela Siegel, attorney Angela Siegel uses her experience and knowledge to help clients in both Florida and New York with their estate planning needs. When you come to the Law Office of Angela Siegel for estate planning assistance, Ms. Siegel will work with you to craft an estate plan that meets the unique needs of you and your family. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.