2022 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up-To-Date?
As this year comes to a close, one of our primary goals is to educate our clients on the vital importance of not only preparing an estate plan, but also keeping your plan up-to-date. While you almost surely understand the importance of creating an estate plan, you may not know that keeping your plan current is every bit as important as creating a plan to begin with.
In fact, outside of not creating any estate plan at all, outdated estate plans are one of the most common estate planning mistakes we encounter. We’ll get called by the loved ones of someone who has become incapacitated or died with a plan that no longer works because it was not properly updated. Unfortunately, once something happens, it’s too late to adjust your plan, and the loved ones you leave behind will be stuck with the mess you’ve left, or they could end up in a costly and traumatic court process that can drag out for months or even years.
Estate planning is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done type of deal. To ensure your plan works properly, it should continuously evolve along with your life circumstances and other changing conditions. Regardless of who you are, your life will inevitably change: families change, assets change, laws change, and goals change.
In the absence of any major life events, we recommend reviewing your estate plan annually. However, there are several common life events that require you to immediately update your plan—that is, if you want it to actually work and keep your family out of court and out of conflict. To this end, if any of the following events occur in your life, contact us, your Personal Family Lawyer® right away to amend your estate plan.
Life Events That Necessitate An Immediate Review Of Your Estate Plan
Marriage not only changes your relationship status; it changes your legal status. Regardless of whether it’s your first marriage or fourth, you must take the proper steps to ensure your estate plan properly reflects your current wishes and needs.
After tying the knot, some of your most pressing concerns include naming your new spouse as a beneficiary on your insurance policies and retirement accounts, granting him or her Medical Power Of Attorney and/or Durable Financial Power Of Attorney (if that’s your wish), and adding him or her to your will and/or trust.
Because divorce is such a stressful process, estate planning often gets overshadowed by the other dramatic changes happening. But failing to update your plan for divorce can have terrible consequences.
Once divorce proceedings start, you’ll need to ensure your future ex is no longer eligible to receive any of your assets or make financial and medical decisions on your behalf—unless that’s your wish. Once the divorce is finalized and your property is divided, you’ll need to adjust your estate plan to match your new asset profile and living situation.
3. Birth or Adoption