Unfortunately, you might have already formed an estate plan, but that doesn’t mean you’re done. At least once a year (often times more frequently), I check in with clients to make sure their plan has actually been implemented and that nothing needs to change. If you’ve already signed your estate planning documents here are a few times it might be worth calling your attorney to make sure nothing needs to be updated:
Assets – If you have had a large change in wealth or assets since you’ve first set up you estate plan, it’s probably time to review. A change in wealth could mean you need to re-evaluate your beneficiaries, trustees, distributions, along with any changing tax laws that may now apply. Even new assets may warrant a phone call to ensure they are planned for and, more importantly, titled properly.
Moving – This goes hand in hand with new assets, where a new home title should be reviewed to make sure it is done correctly and consistently within your plan. However, if changing states, an estate plan should also be review to make sure state laws don’t require different documents or in case a state estate tax might apply.
Time – Over the years, lives change and as they do it’s important to make sure an estate plan changes with them. If children grow up, distribution ages or events might need to be altered. Trustees or other people named in documents might not seem like a wise choice anymore.
Family Changes – Along the same lines, families change dramatically as well. Distribution ages, structures, amounts, etc. all need to be reviewed as family dynamics and life shifts over the years. Specifically, I would recommend a review for any of the following events.
Divorce – Unfortunately, this is a common family change. Provisions may need to be made or changed if a person needs to be removed from a plan or even if a new structure is necessary to prevent interference with a person’s wishes.
Death – Losing a loved one is often hard enough without thinking about the legal consequences, but eventually documents need to be updated to reflect the loss.
Births – While many documents provide for a later born child, I still recommend a review and an update when including new beneficiaries to avoid unnecessary complications later.
With that being said, my husband and I will be taking the time to review our own plan as we look forward to the birth of our first child in June. Have you recently looked at your documents or had a big life change? Take a moment to consider if you might need a review.