Fall is here! Well, almost. Though it is still pretty hot out there, fall is upon us. After all, most stores have already begun putting out their Halloween decorations, much to spooky-season-lovers’ delight. We’re only a few weeks away from pumpkin spice and horror movies.
With the arrival of this new season, it’s important to make sure that you’ve revised your estate plan, if necessary. In this guide, we’ll talk about why revising is vital, and we’ll give you information on life changes that might require you to add an additional tools to your estate planning toolbox. While the rule of thumb states that you should review your estate plan every three to five years, sometimes, you have to revise it sooner than that time frame.
What Happens If You Don’t Revise?
If you don’t revise your estate plan, this mistake can lead to people being left out. There might be a would-be heir that gets nothing because he or she wasn’t included in your will. On the reverse side, people might be included who shouldn’t be, including exes, individuals with whom you’ve had a falling out, the deceased, and more. It makes everything easier come probate (should your estate have to go through this process) if your plan is up-to-date.
There are several life events that should trigger you to contact your estate planning attorney for a meeting. These include divorce, death, marriage, new births, and illness. We’ll go through each below, giving examples of how they could change your estate plan.
Divorce is the legal end of a marriage. It brings with it a lot of challenges, no matter how amicable this split might be (and it’s rarely that amicable). When you and your ex-spouse get divorced, you need to remove him or her from your estate plan. They also need to be removed as a beneficiary from any insurance or retirement policies you may have. When you talk to your lawyer, he or she will help you “scrub” your estate plan to ensure that you remove your ex-spouse.
Death is similar to divorce in that someone deceased also needs to be removed from your estate plan. Though the law won’t recognized dead or divorced parties in certain estate planning documents (it will treat them as void), it’s a good idea to keep your plan updated, so as to avoid confusion and give your estate the best chance possible at moving through probate quickly and efficiently. The deceased, though you might feel more fondly about them than your ex-spouse, need to also be “scrubbed” from your estate plan when you meet with your attorney.
Marriage & Births
On a happier note than divorce or death, marriage and new births mean new heirs and potential beneficiaries. If you’ve welcomed someone new to the family, he or she needs to be added into your estate plan. You don’t want to wait to make this change, lest you pass before you add them and, as a result, they get left out (it happens more often than you think). Act quickly to add new family members into your will and other documents.
Illness (and injury) is another reason you’ll want to take a new look at your estate plan. There are many documents in an estate plan that deal with illness and end-of-life care, including a:
Though your estate plan should include these documents, if it doesn’t, you’ll need to draw them up with an attorney. Even if you have these in place, it is always a good idea to review them to make sure they are correct. As with all of the life changes in this article, you always want to ensure your estate plan is a correct reflection of your life today. Visit our website to reach out and learn more.