When Life Changes, Don’t Forget To Change Your Estate Plan
Many people draft their will and tuck it in a drawer, never to be looked at again. They think they must be done. A good estate plan changes with your life, however. You change, your family changes and what you need to do to achieve your goals may also change. That means updating your estate plan to keep up with those changes.
At Bingham Legal Group PC, we strive to build a lifelong relationship with each client. We want you to come to us with any legal problem you encounter, and we want to work with you to make sure that your estate plan is just as relevant today as it was when you first drafted it, whether that was two years ago or 20.
Life Events That May Affect Your Estate Plan
Remember that your estate plan is more than just your will or trust document. You want to review your entire estate, including beneficiary designations for different accounts, your power of attorney and patient advocate designation documents and titling to major assets, like real estate. Changes to any of your assets may have an unforeseen effect on the others.
Here are a few examples of scenarios where you should review your estate plan:
- A death in the family: We often see estate plans that still name deceased people, which can sometimes cause legal issues and unintended consequences.
- An addition to the family: A much happier occasion, to be sure, but just as complicated, legally. Do you want to include this new person? What is the best way to do that?
- Major health issues: If you are facing a major surgery, illness or any other health issue, make sure your power of attorney and patient advocate designation are up-to-date and reflect your true wishes. Is your named agent still your go-to person? Do they still live in the area?
- Selling your house: If you are thinking of selling, and your house is part of your trust, or was a major asset you planned to pass along, how does that change your estate? This applies to any asset you no longer own, such as a closed financial account.
- Making a lifetime gift: If you decide to give a loved one a major gift that could trigger the gift tax, talk to us about the tax implications and how you may want to balance gifts to your other beneficiaries in your estate.
These are just a few scenarios where you want to review your estate plan. Even if you have not had any major changes, you should review your plan annually to make sure you have not changed your mind about any aspect. Your birthday or the start of the new year is a great time to do this. If you have questions or think you may need changes, we will review your estate plan as a whole with you so you can see whether your current plan still achieves your goals.