For many people, writing an estate plan seems like something to do once and cross off your list for good. However, it’s essential to review your estate plan every few years since life changes can affect how your final wishes are carried out.
Keep reading to learn four signs it’s time to re-evaluate your estate plan with your lawyer and find out what that process looks like.
Sign #1: Your Family Has Grown
Whenever a new person joins your family, it creates an opportunity to include them in your family legacy. And if you have a child, it’s critical to include them in your estate plan by designating a guardian. That way, you’ll know they’re with someone you trust if you are no longer able to care for them, and you can also make sure they’re provided for financially.
If there are grandchildren in the family, you should name them individually in your estate plan. When you don’t list beneficiaries specifically, it can unintentionally exclude beneficiaries. Wills with language that designate “all my grandchildren” as beneficiaries can fall into a legal gray area; sometimes, the court may interpret such language to mean all the grandchildren at the time the will was written. In other cases, the court might decide the language includes all the grandchildren at the time of your passing.
Additionally, when you don’t name individual beneficiaries, it could automatically include individuals you meant to exclude. In either case, individual designations can clear up these potential problems.
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Sign #2: Someone in the Family Has Passed Away
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy. However, if someone you love passed away and that person is named in your estate plan, executing your plan becomes more complicated. Your estate lawyer can help you make sure your plan reflects your current family structure, including alternative beneficiaries and contingencies.
Sign #3: You’ve Gotten Married or Divorced
When your legal relationship status changes, your estate planning documents need to reflect that change.
From an estate planning standpoint, one of the advantages of marriage is that if one spouse dies, the other automatically inherits the entire estate. However, if both people pass away without a will, the court will do its best to “guess” how the couple would want to divide their estate.
While the laws that direct the court how to guess are better than nothing, they don’t make sense for every family. An estate planning attorney can help document your wishes and make sure your assets and property get distributed in a way that reflects your values and priorities.
After a separation, you may no longer want your former spouse to inherit your assets or be named as an executor to your estate. That’s why it’s essential to revoke your initial joint estate plan and create a new one if you separate or get divorced.
After a divorce, updating your beneficiaries and executors and assigning new powers of attorney can all be accomplished through a comprehensive estate plan review. If you have minor children, your lawyer can help you through the process of designating guardianship after a divorce.
Sign #4: You’ve Acquired New Wealth or Your Assets Have Changed in Value
Whenever the state of your assets shifts significantly, it’s worth revisiting your estate plan. Whether you sold property or acquired new wealth in other ways, reviewing your estate plan will ensure all your assets get accounted for and distributed according to your wishes. And if you have debts at the time of your death, your estate plan will help guide your loved ones in resolving them.
What Is the Estate Plan Review Process Like?
Every law office is different, but at Phillips & Santana, we take the time to get to know you and your family’s needs during a free initial consultation. Then, we’ll work together to design a personalized estate plan and implement your wishes.
When you experience significant life changes, we can meet with you to discuss those changes and then review the estate plan to make sure it still reflects your wishes and your unique situation. Together, we review each estate planning document to make sure you’re never unprepared.
Law Offices of Kari Santana: Personalized Estate Planning Services for Clients in Grand Rapids and West Michigan
At the Law Offices of Kari Santana, we understand that you and your family are unique. Your estate plan needs aren’t cookie-cutter, which is why we work with you closely to craft an estate plan that meets your needs and honors your wishes.
If you need to create or update your estate plan, don’t hesitate to reach out by calling us at (616) 717-5759 or filling out our quick and easy consultation form below. We’d love to learn about your family and create an estate plan that works for you.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.