June’s cover of Vanity Fair magazine revealed the transformation of Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner into a woman. “Call me Caitlyn”, the cover reads. Life is inherently full of changes, some undoubtedly more drastic than others and while Caitlyn’s transformation certainly falls into the more drastic type of life change, there are life changes that most people go through that may require counsel from an attorney. Estate planning, for example, is an important undertaking and hiring an attorney to draft an estate plan for you is definitely a step in the right direction. However, just because you already drafted an estate plan does not mean you can simply file it away and forget about it. There are certain life changes that warrant a review of your estate plan in order to make it congruent with the changes in your life; it is recommended that you take a look at your estate plan every 3 to 5 years, because within those periods it is likely that one of the following major life events occur:
Getting married: Generally you would want to update your living trust and/or your will to indicate what provisions you would like to make for your new spouse. You should also address your separate property. You may wish consider a prenuptial agreement if one or both spouses come to the marriage with significant assets.
Divorce or death of a spouse: The end of a marriage should trigger the need to review your estate planning documents. That could mean changing beneficiaries, trustees and changing Powers of Attorney and Health Care Surrogates.
Purchase or refinance of a home: If you have a living trust, your house should be held in the trust. Many times lenders, upon a refinance, will take the property out of the trust, put the mortgage in place and then neglect to put it back into the trust. When buying property many people simply forget to take title in the name of the trust. To have the maximum benefit of the trust, all properties should be in the name of the trust. If your properties are not in your trust, work with your estate planning attorney to help transfer the properties to the trust.
New accounts: Making sure all savings accounts, brokerage accounts or mutual fund accounts are in the trust is important to avoid probate and make transfer of title to your new beneficiaries easier.
The birth of a new child: If you have a baby, adopt a child or have a new stepchild, all would trigger the need to review and update your estate planning.
Change is the only constant and your estate plan should be constantly changing.
It’s a Wild world. Are you protected? SM
For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 to schedule your free consultation.