Why It’s Crucial to Keep Your Estate Plan Up-to-Date

It’s well-known that many people put off making an estate plan and, in doing so, fail to protect their hard-earned assets and their families. What is not as widely known is that too many people feel that once they have created an estate plan, they’re done. In reality, review and revision of that plan with a competent estate planning attorney is as necessary as any other kind of upkeep. At Palmer & Slay, we know that estate planning is an ongoing process. We review our clients’ plans with them annually and also when there is a significant change in their lives. 

Marriage, moving, starting a new business or career path, having a child, etc. — require alterations to your estate plan. Failing to review documents as your circumstances change can leave you and your loved ones vulnerable to all sorts of financial and emotional difficulties.

Major Events Require Changes to Your Estate Plan

Consider the ways in which any of the following events will change your needs and goals and you will understand why it is so important to re-examine your estate plan on a regular basis. While we would all like to believe that we have a long life ahead of us, we know that life is unpredictable. The purpose of having an estate plan is, at least in part, to prepare for unexpected occurrences.

Marriage — Bonding with another person will almost certainly affect your will, trusts, and beneficiary arrangements, and will likely also alter your health care proxy and power of attorney.

Having or adopting a child —  A birth or adoption changes everything. When there is a new member of the family, you will want to do whatever you can to best protect that child’s financial future and prepare for her or his education. You will also have to appoint a legal guardian in case you and your spouse die or become incapacitated.

Substantially addition to your wealth — In the midst of celebrating an inheritance, a huge bonus, an advance on a book deal, an extremely profitable sale of a business, or winning the lottery, don’t forget to meet with your estate planning attorney to protect your newly found assets from excessive taxation, predatory creditors, or lawsuits.

Divorce — Your estate plan should be revised as soon as possible after a divorce because otherwise you may unintentionally not make the necessary changes.

Recognizing the special needs of a child or other family member — If you become aware that your child or another close relative has special needs and must be provided for without denying him or her government benefits, it is important to set up a special needs trust. If you have a child who has special talents (e.g. in sports or the arts), you should investigate how best to set aside funds for that child’s future.

Death of a loved one—  Though we all hate to contemplate the death of a family member, if one occurs, our world shifts, and plans and documents have to be changed.

Relocation —  Although estate planning documents are portable, differences in state tax laws, e.g. such as those relating to separate and community property, may require reconsideration of how funds are distributed for best asset protection.

Remarriage If you remarry, your new spouse will become your primary beneficiary, but you may also want to include your stepchildren. You will certainly want to protect the future inheritance of your children from a prior marriage. 

Contact Palmer & Slay for an Efficient Update of Your Estate Plan

Our sharp attorneys know which questions to ask to make sure that your estate plan is revised with no stone left unturned. We focus on details you may not have considered and give you the benefit of our in-depth knowledge of any changes in tax law. Most of all, no matter what joys or woes lead you to consult with us, we will treat you with the respect and concern you deserve.