Estate planning is not a one-time task. It is essential to review your estate plan after any major life changes to ensure that your plan reflects your current situation and wishes. Here are a few examples of life changes that should prompt you to review your current estate plan:
As mentioned in our previous blog, Estate Planning for College Students, once you reach adulthood your parents can no longer contact medical providers or financial institutions on your behalf without the appropriate documentation in place. In the event that you are estranged from your parents or do not otherwise want them to be in a position to make decisions for you, or inherit from you, it is important to draft documents which choose the individuals you want in these roles.
Your estate plan will need to be updated upon marriage if you desire to have your spouse make decisions for you if you are incapacitated, or want to ensure that specific items are left in your will to persons other than your spouse.
Birth of a Child
If you have children, you may want to create a trust for your children in your will to provide for them should you and your spouse both pass away. You may also wish to name a guardian to care for your children in these circumstances. This may or may not need to be updated after the birth of any additional children, but you should review it to be sure.
Children reach the age of majority
Once your children reach the age of 18, or some other marker of adulthood, you may want to revise your will to remove the children’s trust, or to change the terms thereof. You may also choose to name your children as primary or secondary decision makers in the event of your incapacity.
If you divorce, you will likely want to remove your former spouse’s ability to make decisions for you if you are incapacitated. You may also want to change the financial provisions of your will and the personal representative.
If your financial situation significantly changes, you may want to review your estate planning documents with an attorney and your financial advisor. There could be advantages to creating a trust while you are still alive, or updating beneficiaries on retirement and other financial accounts.
Creating an estate plan is a big step, and one you should be proud of taking. But ensure that you periodically review it, especially after any of the major life changes listed above. If you need help creating or reviewing your estate plan, please contact 240-309-4179 to meet with one of our estate planning attorneys.