The bare minimum of an estate plan should be to designate where, and to whom, your assets go after you pass away. Beyond that, there are countless purposes and benefits of having a thorough plan for your estate, but you need to have this basic principle of estate planning be true for your situation: if you were to pass away tomorrow, you know exactly what would happen to your assets and property.
For us AND for our loved ones, life is constantly changing. We marry, divorce, have children, see our children (and grandchildren!) grow up, and have to say goodbye to some of our loved ones. You’ll find out during these major life events that your estate plan may not keep up with these changes. How do you know which events necessitate an update to your estate plan, though? We’ll lay out a few such events in this blog.
- Divorce. Your spouse often becomes your emergency contact, agent through power-of-attorney documents, and your main beneficiary in your Will. Understandably, this all changes if you become divorced. The good news is that state law prevents an ex-spouse from automatically receiving any bequests from an estate. However, if you planned to leave all or most of your estate to your spouse, a vacuum opens up. Who, now, will receive inheritances from you?
- Birth of a child. Nothing changes one’s perspective quite like becoming responsible for another human life. If you have welcomed a child into your family, you know how much work you have to do. Between the diaper changing and the doctor’s visits, though, don’t forget about including your little one in your estate plan. You need to make sure you choose someone to step in and be a guardian to your child if something were to happen to both you and your partner (or ex-partner).
- Moving to another state. Some estate planning documents remain intact after you move across the country. This is mainly true for Wills; if you move from Anchorage, Alaska to Andalusia, Alabama, the state will almost certainly recognize your Will should you pass away in your new home state (assuming it adheres to Alaska’s requirements). When it comes to other documents, though, such as living trusts, living Wills, healthcare directives, or powers of attorney, you need to take a second look at them and tweak as necessary.
- Every 2-5 years. No matter how boring you think your life is, it is smart to refresh yourself on the estate plan you currently have every few years. Some life events might not seem all that major, but a few seemingly minor events can necessitate an amendment or two to your current plan.
It’s been said that the only constant in life is change. Between the hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s easy to forget about updating your estate plan. However, this doesn’t mean it is any less important. Our firm helps clients of all different stripes construct and amend their estate plans, and we would love to do the same for you. Reach out to our team to see how we can help today!