A couple revising their estate plan with an attorney

Evolving Your Estate Plan

Life isn’t static, so your estate plan shouldn’t be either. Here are seven instances when you should revisit it

Many years ago, you drafted your estate plan with the help of an attorney. At the time, you outlined your assets, set up a living will and even created a trust in order to protect your interests. If you haven’t revisited your estate plan since the day you drafted it, it’s time to do so and make sure it still reflects your wishes. Major life events like divorce or disability can significantly impact your estate. Here are seven situations where evolving your estate plan is necessary.

1. If the Laws Change

If tax laws change, your estate plan might need an update. Laws that touch on either federal or state estate taxes, exemptions or that list new document requirements can all affect your estate plan. Meet with an experienced estate planning attorney regularly to make sure you’re still on good legal ground.

2. Marriage or Divorce

A big life change like a marriage or divorce can significantly change your estate. Meet with your attorney as soon as possible once marriage or divorce is made legal to set up your estate as you wish. If you are recently married, you may have joint assets you want distributed equally among both families. If you divorce, your assets will change and with that your estate will too.

3. Birth of a Grandchild

Before the arrival of your grandchildren, your estate plan probably included your children. Now, you could keep it that way and trust them to hand wealth down, or you could include your grandchildren specifically in your own estate. Or maybe you want to give your children more money in order to better care for your grandchild. Whatever your wishes, if they include a change to your estate you’ll need to meet with your attorney and make the changes.

4. Illness or Disability of a Spouse

Illness or disability can be expensive. Sometimes extended care can necessitate more fund than you had anticipated for your retirement when you first created your estate plan. If you need to spend more on your spouse’s care, your estate plan will need to change.

5. Home Purchase

Not only does buying a new home cost you money, it also becomes an asset. This changes your estate plan in two ways. Immediately, you might need funding for the home, and change your estate plan to provide that. The new home is also now a significant part of your estate, and you will need to think about what you want to happen to it in the case of your death. Speak with your attorney and put those wishes in your estate plan.

6. Career Change

A new career usually means a change in income and a different retirement plan and insurance policy. This affects the numbers in your estate plan, so you should update it accordingly. Similarly, retirement can significantly impact your estate plan. Meet with an expert to make sure your assets and medical care are all in order.

7. Death of a Spouse

Most likely, your spouse is listed in your estate plan. In the case of death, he or she will be removed and their portion of your estate will be allocated elsewhere.

Estate plans can seem intimidating and are sometimes emotional. Working with an experienced, compassionate attorney who has dealt with all of the above situations numerous times can help the updating process be less daunting. Contact an ALA attorney to set up your estate plan, or to make changes in the future.

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