If you’ve already met with an estate planning attorney to put together your wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other long-term plans, then congratulations! You’ve taken a really important step toward being prepared for the future and making things easier on your family and friends should you pass away or become unable to make decisions for yourself.
In order to ensure that your estate plans still fit your needs, you should review them at the beginning of every year. There are certain life changes that can have a huge overall effect on your estate planning, so taking the time to accommodate those changes now will save a significant amount of difficulty later.
Have you experienced any of the following in the last year (or longer, if you haven’t updated your plans in a while)? If so, you’ll want to set up a time to chat with our attorneys right away.
- Did you experience a change in marital status? If you were married, divorced, or widowed in the previous year, then you will need to update your estate plans to reflect this. It may be necessary to change beneficiaries. Most people who go through a divorce will want to change their wills, trusts, and other important documents to remove the former spouse’s name. In the case of a new marriage, the new spouse will likely be added. If you have been widowed, this may change how your inheritance will be dispersed.
- Did you become a parent? Whether you gave birth to a child, adopted, or became a step-parent in the last year, it makes sense to change your estate plans to reflect this change. Remember that you may want to change the beneficiaries listed on insurance policies and bank accounts, as well as to name guardians and possibly set up trusts to care for your child’s future should you be unable to do so personally.
- Have you changed jobs or retired? Your retirement plans and 401Ks may be affected by the change in employment status. Your estate planning attorney can offer you advice on whether to roll over an existing plan or to start a new one, as well as how to deal with dispersal if it is time for your to start drawing on your retirement or pension plan.
- Have you sold or purchased property? There are specific laws that pertain to the inheritance of property, as well as the taxes involved. Adding or removing property from your existing estate plan can help to avoid unnecessary taxes and to protect your heirs’ interests in the property.
There are a number of changes that can impact your estate plan. By working with an attorney, you can help to clarify what needs to be done to keep yourself on track and on target for your estate planning goals in 2016 and beyond.