While the summer has been fun (and a scorcher, at that), reality is slowly coming back to everyone, as the beginning of school season is, once again, approaching. This new era brings with it some estate planning considerations. The number-one thing on your mind, if you already have an estate plan, should be to ensure that it is up to date and, if necessary, revised.
A lot can change in a short period of time—we all know that. Though the rule of thumb is to edit and update your estate plan every three to five years, big changes might have occurred in far shorter a time frame than that. In this article, we’ll talk about revising your estate plan: the dos, don’ts, and must-knows.
What Does Revising Mean In This Context?
In the context of your estate plan, revising refers to looking over the different documents in your plan to make sure that they are still aligned with your current situation. Are the people listed in the documents still in your life? Have things change with them? In the next section, we’ll discuss the times when revision is the most necessary, though this list is not exhaustive, and there are many other changes that could occur that would make updates a must-do.
When Do You Truly Need to Revise?
Listed below are some major life events that require you to go back and look at your estate plan, ensuring that the plan reflects the current changes, if applicable.
Alas, the divorce rate is pretty high, with around half of marriages saying goodbye the legal way. If you divorce your spouse, you will need to go back to your estate plan and ensure that, in the documents, your significant other is no longer listed as a beneficiary or a power of attorney. Even if you two had an amicable split, it’s best to change that role rather than leave it.
On the reverse, getting married is a happy occasion to change your estate plan to include your new spouse. You will want them to be a beneficiary or take on important roles in the plan, so this is another occasion where meeting with your attorney would be an excellent idea.
New Family Members
Whether you’re gaining new family members through marriage, birth, adoption, or however else, you’ll want to make sure they are included in your estate plan, if you are close to them. Don’t think to yourself that you’ll get to it “eventually”—do it now, lest something happen, leading it to be too late.
Almost every estate plan has roles delegated to other people, including powers of attorney, guardians, and executors. These roles are vitally important to the administration of the plan, and you want to continuously make sure that the person you’ve asked to carry out that role is still fit.
If illness, addiction, or injury, for example, have rendered your named power of attorney incapacitated, you’ll need to remove them from that role. If you’ve divorced your spouse, but they’re still executor of your will, you’ll need to make alterations. If your proposed designees are of sound mind and still close to you, they, obviously, can stay.
What Happens If You Ignore Your Estate Plan?
A whole lot of conflict, that is what can happen. In addition to people being left out or included who should not be, families can challenge wills post-mortem, leading to expensive inter-family strife. For your loved ones’ sake, it is important to keep up with your estate plan.
Hopefully, this short guide has inspired you to contact your estate planning attorney to look over your plan again. And, lest we forget, we hope you have a great start to the upcoming school year!