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Five Reasons To Update Your Will & Trust

5 Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan

Estate plans are almost magical: they allow you to maintain control of your assets, yet protect you in case you become incapacitated. Estate plans take care of your family and pets. And, if carefully crafted, your estate plan will reduce fees, taxes, stress, and time delays.

Estate plans can even keep your family and financial affairs private. But one thing estate plans can’t do is update themselves.

Estate plans are written to reflect your situation at a specific point in time. While they have some flexibility, the bottom line is that your life is continually changing and unfolding in ways you might not have ever predicted. Think about it – five years ago, would you have anticipated that your life would be the way it is today?

Your estate plan needs to reflect those changes in your life. If not, it will be as stale as last week’s bagel, and can even fail miserably.

If anything in the following 5 “life-change” categories has occurred in your life since you signed your estate planning documents, call me now to schedule a meeting. I’ll get you in ASAP for your free estate plan audit, to make sure you and your family are protected.

1. Marriage, Divorce, Death

Marriage, remarriage, divorce, and death all require substantial changes to an estate plan. Think of all the roles a spouse plays in our lives.

We’ll need to evaluate your beneficiaries, trustees, successor trustees, executors/personal representatives, and agents under your powers of attorney.

2. Change in Financial Status.

A substantial change in your financial status – positive or negative – generally requires an estate plan update. These changes can be the result of launching, winding down, or selling a business; business and professional success; filing bankruptcy; suffering medical crisis; retiring; receiving an inheritance; or, even winning the lottery.

3. Birth, Adoption, or Death of a Child / Grandchild.

The birth or adoption of a child or grandchild may call for the creation of gifting trusts, 529 education plans, gifting plans, and UGMA / UTMA (Uniform Gifts to Minors Act / Uniform Transfers to Minors Act) accounts. We’ll also need to reevaluate your beneficiaries, trustees, successor trustees, executors/personal representatives, and agents under powers of attorney.

4. Change in Circumstances.

Circumstances change (“Sh*t Happens”). It’s a fact of life – and when you’re the beneficiary or fiduciary of an estate plan, those changes may warrant revisions to the plan. Common examples include:

● Children and grandchildren attain adulthood and are able to serve in trusted helper roles

● Relationships change and different trusted helpers need to be named

● Beneficiaries or trusted helpers develop overspending or drug / gambling habits

● Guardians, executors, or trustees are no longer able (or no longer wish) to serve in their preassigned roles

● Beneficiaries become disabled and need a special needs trust to receive government benefits

● Guardians for minor children divorce, move to a new state, or are, otherwise, no longer appropriate to serve

5. Changes in Venue.

Moving from one state to another always warrants estate plan review as state’s laws differ. Changes may be needed to ensure that you’re taking full advantage of – and not being penalized by – your new state’s laws. This is also true when purchasing a second home outside of your state.

Estate Plans Are Created to Help, Not Hurt, You

Old estate plans get stale just like old bagels do. You wouldn’t rely on last week’s bagel for lunch; please don’t rely on your estate plan from five years ago. If you’ve experienced any of the changes I’ve mentioned in this article, it’s time to come in and chat. Take advantage of my free estate plan audit.

We’ll review your estate plan and make sure you and your loved ones are protected.

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Estate Planning Attorney Eric Ridley