If you're like many people, you may think that the first draft of your estate plan is sufficient. Unfortunately, that belief is not correct in the long run. Your estate plan should reflect your current situation, which can change from time to time. If you haven't revised your estate plan in a few years, plan to go over the following details with your family attorney soon.
1. Change to Marital Status
If your marital status has changed since the last time you updated your estate plan, you need to make some changes.
If you've recently married, you may want to change your plan to include your spouse as the beneficiary of property - or to include them as your power of attorney.
If you've recently divorced, you may want to remove your past spouse from your plans. This is particularly important if they're listed as your beneficiary - or power of attorney - and the divorce was less than amicable. You don't want a hostile individual to be responsible for end-of-life decisions for you.
2. Change of Guardianship
If you have minor children, and you've decided to change your nomination for guardian status, your estate plan needs to be modified. Your designated guardian will remain the same until you take the necessary steps to amend your estate plan.
Before you make the changes to your estate plan, discuss those changes with your current guardian, as well as the new guardian you've selected. An open discussion between all parties can help alleviate complications should you pass away.
3. Change in the Value of Your Estate
If there's been a dramatic change to the value of your estate, you need an updated plan, especially if your estate is worth considerably more than it was at the time the initial plan was implemented.
If you have additional assets, they might not be protected without an amended estate plan. Unfortunately, this type of situation could send your estate to probate, which could tie up your assets for several years.
4. Relocation to a Different State
If you've recently moved to another state, you need to have your estate plan looked at. Rules regarding estate plans can change from state to state, especially where marital assets and guardianship of children are concerned.
If you maintain the same estate plan after you move to another state, your estate might not have the protection you anticipated.
In fact, you may find that your estate plan is null and void in your current state. To protect your family and your assets, update your estate plan whenever you move to a different state.
5. Your Children Have Reached the Age of Majority
If one of your children has reached the age of majority, you need to make changes to your estate plan. This is particularly true if you have money tied up in trust funds for your children, or you've designated guardians and beneficiaries for their portion of the estate.
Modifications also allow you to determine how and when your adult children will receive proceeds from your estate.
6. You've Reached the Age of Retirement
If you've reached the age of retirement, and you have retirement accounts that are about to reach maturity, you should sit down with your attorney as soon as possible.
Most 401(k) accounts require you to begin taking distributions as soon as you're over the age of 70 years old. You'll need to make sure that your estate plan is amended to recognize those payments. This is particularly important if you have a designated beneficiary who will oversee your estate for you.
Don't take chances with your estate plan. If you haven't amended your plan in a while, sit down with an attorney to make the necessary changes. Contact the attorneys at The Law Office of Carla D. Allen. We're here to help with all your estate planning needs.