Which Life Changes Require An Estate Plan Review?
Estate planning is an ongoing process. Ensure accuracy by seeking legal counsel after the three life events discussed below. I am attorney Charles M. Hall, and as a rule of thumb, it is recommended that individuals review their estate plans at least once every 10 years or with any move to or from Georgia.
Surveys consistently find that more than half of the people between the ages of 55 and 64 have no will or estate plan in place. Many more have outdated plans from when their now-grown children were babies. Below are the general types of changes needed to a will and estate plan following three major life events.
Review After The Birth Or Adoption Of A Child
A growing family is the initial reason many people create an estate plan. Most new parents realize the importance of designating a guardian for their minor children. For those who already had an estate plan prior to having children, it is important to add their children to the will and designate a guardian.
When a second or third child is born or adopted, life picks up speed. Parents may assume that their estate plan is still accurate. However, updating documents is an important step toward protecting each child. It is also a good time to follow up with the listed guardians to find out if they have the ability to care for several children. If not, consider who might be a better fit and make changes.
Review After Marriage, Remarriage Or Divorce
Marriage and divorce do not automatically change provisions in a will. After a marriage, talk about shared goals to begin the process of updating existing estate plans. If there are children from prior marriages, it is essential to consider gifts carefully to try to preserve relationships and avoid conflict.
Updating an estate plan is vital following divorce. Make sure to remove a former spouse from power of attorneys. Do not overlook beneficiary designations. These are automatic and transfer assets outside the will. Old beneficiary designations could allow an ex-spouse to inherit a retirement account or insurance proceeds in error. Make these revisions as soon as possible.
Review After Serious Injury Or Disability
A spouse or child may have additional needs after an injury or serious illness. It may be necessary to create a special needs trust to care for a child paralyzed in an accident. Take care to ensure that a gift does not affect Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income eligibility.
As the years go by, an estate plan can easily become outdated. Failing to update it can easily result in unintended consequences or even protracted probate litigation.
Take the time to sit down and review your estate plan with an experienced estate planning attorney following any major change in your life. This will minimize conflict and ensure that protections are in place for loved ones.
Need Help With Your Estate Plan? Contact Me Today.
My firm, Charles M. Hall, P.C., is based in Atlanta and serves clients throughout the surrounding areas of Georgia. For help creating or updating your estate plan, call me at 404-865-1966 or send me an email.