Estate plans are intended to evolve as major events occur like births, deaths, and divorce. You should not think of the terms of your estate plan as written in stone. Instead, you should plan to review and revise your estate plan every few years. You should also make sure to examine your estate planning document after major life events occur. The following are some important questions you should ask yourself when you perform your regular estate plan review.
Potential Changes to Estate Distribution Plans
Various events including the birth and death of loved ones can end up shaping how you would like to pass on assets. While reviewing your estate, one of the best places to begin is to ask yourself whether your estate plan still effectively passed on your assets in a way that conforms with your wishes. If you got divorced or married, you should make sure that your estate plan fully considers your new spouse.
If you have had children since you last revised your estate plan, you should consider how you would like to pass on assets to your children. Or, if your children have had children since the time you last wrote your estate plan, you should consider whether you would like to include a trust for your grandchildren in your estate or any other method to pass on assets to the future generation. Another potentially complex area of revision for your estate plan is if an existing child was seriously injured and now needs special needs provisions in the terms of your estate plan.
Do Not Overlook Your Healthcare Planning Documents
While performing a review of estate planning documents, many people focus on the terms of how their assets will be handled. You should also remember to review your durable power of attorney as well as health care proxy when you perform a review. One of the most common changes that people need to make to these documents is the person designated as agent. The previous agent might have moved away, passed on, or no longer be in a situation to provide such services. Additionally, your relationship with the previous agent might have changed and you may no longer want this person to function in this role.
Considering Whether Fiduciary Nominations are Still Suitable
During your review of your estate plan, you should also consider whether the person you have appointed to act as a personal representative or trustee is still appropriate. Much like with health care agents, a variety of life events can occur that necessitate a change in who you have appointed to act in such a position.
Updating Beneficiary Designations
One of the most critical parts of estate planning review is making sure that your beneficiary designations on your estate planning documents, including your retirement accounts, are still correct. Remember, retirement accounts pass separately from the probated documents, like wills, which is why you will want to make sure these documents are also appropriately updated. If you fail to adequately revise your retirement accounts or life insurance beneficiaries, your assets can end up being passed on to an undesirable party.
Contact a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorney
Updating your estate plan is just as important as writing one. Remember, if you pass away without adequately updating your estate plan, undesirable results might occur. It is not uncommon for new challenges or obstacles to appear while performing this update. If you need the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney, do not hesitate to contact attorney Jim A Lyon today.