Estate planning can be a daunting task. It is crucial to keep in mind that estate plans are not only for people of specific age or income brackets. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much money you make; it just matters that you are prepared.
An estate plan can ensure that your wishes regarding your assets and health care are honored when you die or if you become incapacitated and cannot make your own decisions.
Updating an estate plan is almost as important as writing one. Once you have established your estate plan, maintaining your plan to keep up with circumstances that may affect your estate is crucial.
Children. If you have a new baby, you’ll want to add your new family member to your estate plan. The appointment of a Guardian of the Person and Guardian of the Estate will ensure they’re taken care of if something happens to you.
Assets and liabilities. A notable change in the value of your estate is cause for review. An increase or decrease in the value of your estate could cause you to reconsider how your assets will be allocated among your beneficiaries.
Poor health. Should you be diagnosed with a terminal illness, chronic disease or catastrophic condition, an update to your estate plan is urgent. Documents such as a Living Will, Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney for Health Care will ensure that you have the proper provisions in place in the event of your incapacity or death.
Marriage, divorce, death. Marriage, divorce and death all generally warrant an estate plan update. If you are newly married or divorced, you should adjust your plan so it reflects your new spouse or that your ex-spouse is removed. If not, you could accidentally leave your significant other less than you intended, or worse, you could inadvertently leave your estate to your ex-spouse.
Additional items that should all be updated and reviewed include beneficiary designations on assets such as bank accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, investment accounts and real estate holdings.
If any of these life changes apply to you, consider speaking with your estate planning attorney to be sure your plan is updated and in proper order.