Why would your estate plan need an update? Well, your estate plan is like a snapshot of you, your family, your financial situation, and the tax laws as they existed at the time it was prepared. All of those things do change during your lifetime, and often in ways that were not anticipated. When the unanticipated happens, your estate plan will need to change, to adjust.
For example, here are a few reasons your estate plan might be outdated:
- A marriage in the family
- The birth of a child or grandchild
- Original plan was created prior to 2017
- Purchase or sale of a home
- Transitioning a family-owned business
- New or anticipated changes to federal and/or state tax laws
- A death in the family
- Changes in ‘helpers’ (i.e., trustees get older, pass on, or fall out of favor with you)
- Income tax considerations
- Protecting kids and grandkids from creditors (or themselves)
- Marital status of named guardians changes (i.e., divorced, married, remarried)
- Unanticipated (or anticipated) large inheritance
- Large retirement plans (over $250,000)
- Review, update or transition to digital assets
- Checking beneficiary designations
- Estate tax implications in your state
- Coordinating retirement plans with trust
- Increases in value of estate
- Changes to personal goals or finances
- Making sure the estate plan still does what you intended
We highly recommend getting an estate planning attorney’s advice to make any changes to an estate plan. Trying to make a change yourself by writing on your original plan documents is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Maybe your changes won’t be valid. Maybe they will actually void your plan documents altogether. Maybe they will lead to confusion that will require a judge and jury to straighten out.
Your estate planning attorney will be able to provide critical guidance you need to make the appropriate changes to your plan, thus giving you peace of mind that everything has been done correctly.
Estate planning is an ongoing process. Your estate plan needs to be changed, adjusted and adapted as you move through the events of your life. Keeping your estate plan up to date will give both you and your family assurance that it will work the way you want whenever it is needed. And that is one of the most thoughtful and considerate things you can do for yourself and those you love.