Having put a well-crafted estate plan in place, many people feel that they are now finished with the task. But not following up with a regular review of your estate plan is comparable to not visiting the dentist for years after having your teeth cleaned — likely to result in serious trouble. Like other professional services, estate planning requires upkeep and revision. As time passes, changes occur in your life that requires changes in investments, beneficiaries, assets protection, and retirement plans.
This is why competent estate planning attorneys schedule regular meetings with their clients (at least once every 3 years) during which they can be kept up-to-date concerning alterations in each client’s family, career, finances, and health, any of which may have a profound effect on actions that should be taken regarding their estate plans.
Relocating, getting married, changing jobs, starting a business, having a child — each may require changes to an estate plan by a capable estate planning attorney who is:
- Familiar with tax and inheritance laws
- Able to draft and review legal documents
- Ask questions pertinent to your goals and wishes
- Suggest using estate planning tools like trusts when appropriate
Above all, having a skilled estate planning attorney review your documents as your circumstances change will provide you the security you and your family need, now and in the future.
Major Events That Necessitate Changes to Your Estate Plan
Because life is unpredictable and none of us know what the future holds, it is important to have an estate plan that prepares you for these contingencies. With that in mind, think of all the ways the following life events may change your life and therefore your plans for the future.
In addition to redesigning your life, marriage may alter your will, your trusts, and your named beneficiaries, not to mention your health care proxy and power of attorney.
Having/Adopting a Child
A new member of the family changes everything. Protecting the child’s health and safety, and saving for their education become priorities. Naming a legal guardian for the child in case you and your spouse both die or become incapacitated becomes a matter of some urgency.
Realizing That Your Child or Another Family Member Has Special Needs
Such a realization comes with the responsibility to protect the most vulnerable member of the family. This is frequently accomplished by establishing a special needs trust to make sure your loved one can receive supplemental private funds while remaining eligible for government benefits.
When you divorce, it is crucial to have your estate plan revised to make the necessary changes to your will and perhaps to trusts, power of attorney, health care proxy, retirement account beneficiary, and/or payable-on-death (POD) bank accounts.
Death of a Close Relative
However painful to contemplate, it is wise to recognize that the death, especially an unexpected one, of a family member may not only be devastating emotionally but may require logistical changes to plans and documents.
A move to another state may result in some changes in taxation, legal terminology (e.g. executor vs. personal representative), marital property laws, and probate stipulations.
Remarrying will likely change your beneficiary designations, not only to include your new spouse but to protect your children from the previous marriage and possibly include your new stepchildren, especially if you intend to adopt them. Our knowledgeable attorneys can assist you with bloodline planning to ensure that after your death your assets reach your intended recipients.
Having a Windfall
Receiving an unexpectedly large bonus, inheriting wealth, selling a business or property, or winning the lottery will undoubtedly make you jubilant. It will also require a consultation with your estate planning attorney to protect these new assets from excessive taxation, scam artists, predatory creditors, and perhaps frivolous lawsuits.
Contact the Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys to Keep Your Estate Plan Current
For decades, the attorneys at Surprenant & Beneski have been keeping the estate plans of our clients throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod polished and up-to-date. When you get in touch with us, we will use innovative strategies to protect your assets and your loved ones and pay attention to every detail no matter how many revisions are required. Contact us now so we can help you keep pace with life’s inevitable changes.