If you have a comprehensive estate plan in place, you are ahead of over half of all Americans. While you should certainly feel good about taking the steps necessary to protect yourself, your assets, and your loved ones, do not make the mistake of stopping now. That estate plan needs to be reviewed and revised both routinely and when life events require in order to continue to protect everything important to you. The estate planning attorneys at Kulas & Crawford offer guidelines to help you know when to review your existing estate plan.
Routine Review and Revisions
The initial estate plan you create may be fairly basic, consisting of nothing more than a simple Last Will and Testament, because that is all you need when you are young and single. While that is certainly a good start, a Will cannot accomplish everything that a comprehensive estate plan can, and should, accomplish. Our lives rarely remain the same year after year. As you move through the stages of your life, the people and things in your life are likely to change. For this reason, all estate plans should be updated on a regular basis so that your current plan reflects your current needs and wishes.
Although there are no hard and fast rules dictating when you should review your estate plan as a matter of course, most estate planning attorneys suggest reviewing your plan every three to five years until you reach about age 50. For most people, the most dramatic changes (marriage, children, job changes) in their lives occur during those years. From that point until you retire you should be able to get by with reviewing your plan every five to seven years or so. Once you reach your retirement years, a routine review every seven to ten years is sufficient. These timelines, however, assume that there are no life events that warrant a more immediate review. To ensure that your estate plan is relevant, you also need to know what life events should dictate an immediate review and revision.
Life Events that Should Trigger an Immediate Review of Your Estate Plan
Routine reviews should catch subtle changes that need to be made in your estate plan; however, sometimes a more immediate, and more drastic, revision needs to be made to your estate plan. Among the life events that might call for an immediate review and revision of your plan are:
- Marriage and divorce – your own marriage or divorce will likely necessitate changing beneficiary designations within your plan. The marriage of a child is also something that could trigger a review because your son/daughter-in-law could now stand to gain control over the inheritance you plan to leave your child as a result of a subsequent death or divorce.
- Birth and death of beneficiaries or fiduciaries — basically, the death of anyone who is part of your estate plan, as a beneficiary or fiduciary, is cause to review your plan. The birth of a child or grandchild should also be specifically noted in your plan to ensure your beneficiaries are properly identified.
- Move out of state — because state laws govern many aspects of your estate plan, moving to a new state should call for a consultation with an estate planning attorney in the new state to determine if any changes to your plan are advisable.
- Retirement – your own retirement will likely cause significant changes to your financial portfolio which should, in turn, trigger the need to make changes to your estate plan.
- Major change in assets – your estate plan should include provisions that can handle shifting assets; however, a major increase or decrease in the value of your assets, or the acquisition or sale of a major asset (such as your home or business), should give rise to a review of your plan to see how the change impacts your overall plan.
Contact Vero Beach Estate Planning Attorneys
For additional information please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have specific questions or concerns about updating your estate plan, please contact the experienced Port St. Lucie estate planning attorneys at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule an appointment.