For many people, the idea of creating an estate plan may be a “one and done” situation: they create the plan, then they put it aside and think no more about the subject. But there are reasons to update an estate plan you may want to consider.
Life brings changes, and because those changes can directly impact your estate plan, it’s important to update your plan whenever you feel necessary.
A New Family Member
When it comes to estate planning, it’s always smart to update your plan based on the arrival of new family members.
This does not only apply in cases where children were born and/or adopted into your family. Your family may have also gained new members through marriage, blending the members of two families together and possibly creating new beneficiaries you want to be included in your estate plan.
It’s also possible you have added new family members in unofficial roles, such as a trusted family friend or a neighbor that provided aid when your family needed it. Because named beneficiaries do not face any requirements to be included in an estate plan, anything goes when it comes to adding new family members to your estate plan.
The addition of new family members does not necessarily apply only to the estate planner, either. While changes can be made if you marry, divorce, or marry a second spouse, those same changes can also be made when any of the named beneficiaries in your estate plan experiences similar life changes. If your child gets married and has a child of their own, for example, you can include that grandchild as a named beneficiary.
That being said, keep in mind you can also change your estate plan at any time, so the details of your plan never have to be final until you decide.
Loss of a Beneficiary
In terms of estate planning, when we speak of the loss of a beneficiary we do not solely refer to situations where a named beneficiary has died. It can also apply to situations like the end of a marriage, a change in relationship, or any challenge where the named beneficiary has lost the privilege of inclusion within the estate plan. While the loss of a named beneficiary can be very hard, that loss is often a good reason to revisit and update your estate plan.
This is especially important when you create an estate plan early in life because, over the course of a lifetime, we experience life-changing events such as marriage, divorce, having children, remarriage, stepchildren, and loss of our parents or other family members. Given these experiences, it often makes sense to make sure your beneficiaries reflect your current situation.
Changes in Assets
Assets are items of value and include things like real estate property, bank accounts, stocks, bonds or other investments, and other tangible personal property. For example, maybe you bought a new house this year. If so, you can change your estate plan to reflect your wishes regarding that property. It would make sense that anytime you acquire a major asset, that you discuss with your estate planning attorney what needs to be done when you pass away. You may want that property to be put in a revocable trust.
Asset changes can apply to a variety of situations, from real estate property to funds to personal belongings like cars, artwork, and jewelry. Because the changes can go in either way, it may be necessary to delete assets from your plan if something is sold or given away and is no longer yours to distribute.
Let Us Help
Andrew Fesler is a Carlsbad-based attorney, well versed in all aspects of estate planning. Contact our office for information on creating and updating your estate plan. We make it understandable and affordable. To find out more about how we can help, contact the Law Office of Andrew Fesler today.