Creating a comprehensive estate plan can take time and a lot of thought. That’s why most people who successfully create their initial estate plan often feel a burden lifted from their shoulders.
However, estate planning is a process that should be ongoing, meaning that you should revisit your estate plan from time to time to ensure that it still meets your needs. If you don’t, your estate’s assets could end up falling into the hands of people whom you never intended to inherit in the first place. It could also leave your family fighting over important assets, which can suck up a lot of time and money while ruining familial relationships.
So, when do you need to update your estate plan?
Most major life events should spur you to take another look at your estate plan. This includes the following events:
- Changed relationship
- The acquisition of new assets
- Moving to a different state
- A change in the law that affects estate planning
These are just some events that you’ll want to pay particularly close attention to when they occur. Keep in mind, too, that these changes can pertain to you, your beneficiaries or even your named executor or trustee.
An example of why changes matter
Life events can have significant ramifications for your estate plan. For example, if you remarry and create a blended family, you might want to revise your estate planning documents. This is because you may want to provide resources to your new spouse and their children, but you also want to make sure that you protect your children from another relationship.
If you don’t, you could end up in a situation where your spouse inherits a significant portion, or maybe even all, of your estate without an obligation to pass those assets down to your own children.
Revisions to provide clarity
When you pass away and asset distribution comes into question, some focus is going to be given to your intent. By regularly revisiting your estate plan and revising it as needed, you can make clear how you intended your assets to be distributed. This can help prevent a lot of infighting and ensure a smooth transition of assets when the time comes.
Talking about modifications with your loved ones
Although it’s not required, it’s usually a good idea to talk about estate planning modifications with your loved ones. This will ensure that no one is taken aback when the time comes to distribute your assets, and it can help lead to other productive conversations with your loved ones about the estate planning process. Having these conversations can also reduce the risk of someone claiming that you lacked the mental capacity necessary to create legally binding estate planning documents.
Do you need more guidance?
There’s a lot to take into account when you engage in the estate planning process. While it may seem overwhelming at times, you need to be diligent every step of the way if you want to protect your interests, your assets and your loved ones.
That’s where the assistance of a legal professional may prove valuable. An experienced estate planning attorney can advise you of your options and when it may be necessary to create a new estate planning document or modify existing vehicles. They can also educate you on certain strategies that may better protect your assets and your loved ones.
If you think that you could benefit from that kind of representation, please consider reaching out to a legal team that you are confident will appropriately guide you throughout the process.