If you’ve written a will or established a trust, you’ve already taken responsible first steps to protect your estate. However, circumstances change, and even the most comprehensive plan needs a review from time to time. People get married, have children, and see their social circles expand, contract, and shift. Sometimes they get divorced or suffer the death of a loved one. And, in many cases, the agreements and plans they’ve made could be fundamentally altered by legal amendments or new tax laws.
Since few people can keep abreast of every development, it’s important to account for a variety of change when you’re planning your estate—and that means occasionally reviewing what you’ve already written.
When to Consider an Estate Plan Review
It’s especially important to review your estate plan when any of the following apply:
- You got married or remarried
- You’re in the middle of a divorce or have already ended a marriage
- You had a child
- You were diagnosed with a serious illness or have lost a loved one
- You moved to another state or are planning to move
Marriage and Divorce
When you’re first married, you may want to leave all your assets to your spouse. However, it’s possible that your spouse may not be entitled to the entirety of your estate. If you die without a will or living trust, your state’s probate court could divide your assets in ways you may not anticipate.
If you divorce, you will likely want a change your estate plan. Even if you’ve removed your spouse from your will, they might still be named as a beneficiary on some of your accounts. This could also be true for life insurance policies or a home ownership agreement. In certain cases, these types of beneficiary designations can actually override whatever changes you’ve made to your estate plan.
Children, New and Old
If you were to die unexpectedly, you’d want your child to have a safety net. A comprehensive estate plan means appointing a guardian, establishing a trust or other financial back-up, and taking other protective measures to ensure your child can live their best life even if you’re not there to guide them through it.
People sometimes think of estate planning as a task that’s meant to pass on an inheritance or otherwise protect their loved ones. However, estate planning also protects the testator. An experienced attorney can, for instance, help you name a trusted friend or relative to make financial and medical decisions when you’re unable to make them for yourself. If you don’t appoint someone, a court will find a person they think can act in your best interest—even if that person isn’t familiar with you, your life, and your values.
Changes in residency can have a huge impact on your estate. Every state in the country has its own laws for probate, inheritance, and tax. For instance, if you lived in New York or Arkansas before moving to California, it’s important to review your estate plan to accommodate the rules of your new home state.
Don’t Let Your Plans Go To Waste
There are many reasons why you should review your estate, and it’s important that you let an experienced estate planning attorney help you do it. The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. has decades of estate planning experience. Send us a message, or give us a call today. Whether you need to review your existing estate plan, change it, or start from the ground up, we have the credentials and knowledge to help you preserve your peace of mind.