When to Update Your Estate Plan
One sure thing in life is change will happen throughout the years. It’s always a mix of positive and challenging life changes too. As life happens, it’s important to keep your estate plan updated. People often wonder when to update your estate plan and how to update your estate plan, so let’s dive into keeping your estate plan current and the life changes that might require a fresh look.
How Often to Update Your Estate Plan
Generally speaking, there’s no hard rule on how often to update your estate plan since everyone’s life situation is so unique. However, it’s wise to review and update your estate plan at least every 3 to 5 years. If you’ve had a significant life change, you’ll want to update your estate plan to reflect the changes as soon as you can. It’s easy to stay busy with everyday life and put off updating your estate plan, but you will never regret keeping your assets and affairs in order.
Why Update Your Estate Plan?
We understand that estate plans, wills, and trusts aren’t the most exciting things to talk about. Especially since you are discussing plans upon your death! It is crucial, though, to keep your estate plan current because life is still unpredictable as much as we try to plan. Even if you haven’t experienced a major life change recently, you might have revisions you want to make anyway.
It can make it more complicated if your estate plan is outdated upon your death. For example, you don’t want a former spouse still listed as a beneficiary in your estate plan. So, taking the time to meet with your Florida estate planning attorney to update your estate plan every 5 years or after a significant life change is wise. Now, what life changes would warrant a change to your estate plan?
Update With Major Life Changes
Let’s look at some significant life events that would need an immediate update to your estate plan. These events and circumstances can impact how you want your estate handled upon your death.
Marriage & Divorce
When you get married, it’s definitely a time you want to update your estate plan. However, don’t just assume everything will go to your spouse just because you are married. You still want to be clear and detailed in involving your spouse in your estate plan. For example, other than making your spouse a beneficiary, you may also want your spouse to be a trustee, executor, or power of attorney. Updating your estate plan to list your spouse in any and all roles is essential.
When the opposite happens, and a divorce occurs, it also justifies revisiting your estate plan. Have other people in mind that can fill any roles that your former spouse previously held. If you remarry, take extra care to update your estate plan accordingly.
Birth or Adopting a Child
Anytime you welcome a new child into your family, especially your first child, you should add them to your estate plan. This is the time to add your child as a beneficiary, open any trusts, select a guardian, and more. It can get very complicated if a child is not included in your estate plan upon your death. For minor children, it’s critical to name a guardian to take care of your children if you pass away.
When your children are grown and begin families of their own, it’s a good time to update your estate plan. You’ll remove the guardianship and may want to adjust your plan now that you have adult children. Even with adult children, there are ways to protect your child’s inheritance.
Major Financial Change
If you’ve experienced a considerable increase or decrease in financial assets, you should probably review and update your estate plan. Think about any major new investments, real estate properties, or businesses you have. This may impact how you distribute your assets to beneficiaries. On the flip side, if you sell any significant financial asset, you should review how this affects your estate plan and update it accordingly.
If you or your spouse receive a health diagnosis, it’s wise to make sure your estate plan is current. An experienced estate planning attorney will go through your estate plan to help you make sure each part of it reflects your wishes and needs moving forward.
How to Update Your Estate Plan
The good news is that creating and updating an estate plan is usually a simple and straightforward process. However, when you make updates, they must be completed correctly, so your wishes are legally binding. Consulting with a Florida estate planning attorney is a wise move to keep everything in order. The law professionals at The Merriman Law Firm will review your current estate plan and help you determine the best way to make adjustments.
Your estate plan is an essential part of your life. We all know life changes, sometimes unexpectedly, so make sure your most important documents reflect your current life status. The Merriman Law Firm is here to work with you to update your estate plan or to create a new one. Contact our law professionals today for a free initial consultation.