It can be tempting to file away an estate plan once everything has been prepared and signed, but an estate plan is something that needs to be reviewed on a periodic basis.
Life changes, and your estate plan should change with it. It is for this reason that estate planning attorneys always recommend that individuals review the circumstances surrounding their original estate plan every two years or as often as is needed to keep up with their life changes.
The following circumstances highlight a few of these reasons an estate plan needs to be updated.
1. Divorce or Remarriage
If the original will or trust was written for a married couple, and the couple later divorces, the estate plan needs to be updated. This is also true if the documents were for a single person who later marries.
It can be a terrible discovery for loved ones of the deceased to find out later that the estate’s distributions will be totally altered because the deceased’s former spouse was still listed in a Will or Trust. It becomes an extremely difficult process and the true wishes of the testator may not come to fruition.
As soon as a monumental life change happens, it is important that the will or trust be revisited and at least amended.
2. Change in Children Situation
Perhaps the individual who wrote the original document did not have children at the time the will or trust was written. Or maybe the children were minors at the time the estate plan was prepared, but the children are now over the age of 18. In both of these situations, an estate plan needs to be updated.
If children were not a part of the previous estate plan and now the couple has minor children, a new will needs to be written with respect to a primary and successor guardian for the minor children of the parties. This life change will more than likely require an entirely new document instead of a simple amendment.
Discuss this new change with an estate planning attorney to see how best to handle the needed adjustment.
3. Change in Guardian Situation
If a will is already written designating a guardian for minor children of the parties, and the testator(s) wish to change this guardian designation, an amendment may be needed to the estate plan.
These changes could involve the death of a guardian named in the will. It could also involve an out-of-state move meaning that a new guardian who lives in the state where the family now lives needs to be named.
4. Disinheriting a Beneficiary
No one really wants to think of this situation, but sometimes, a beneficiary or child needs to be disinherited in the will or trust. It can be for a number of reasons, including poor life choices or drug or alcohol addiction. Perhaps the parent believes that the child needs a more structured arrangement so that he or she does not spend all of the money too quickly once it is inherited.
Regardless of the reasons for it, if something needs to be included to disinherit a beneficiary or protect the assets from a beneficiary, a revision of the estate plan may be needed.
5. New Family-Owned Business
Another possible life change that can require a modification or at least a review of the estate plan can be if the individual did not own a business at the time the original plan was written but now owns ones. Closely-held family businesses present unique challenges to an estate plan. They require extensive planning regarding what happens to the business itself when the owner dies.
If after the estate plan has been written, the testator starts or acquires a new business, it is always recommended that he or she contact an estate attorney to ensure that business assets are protected under the plan.
6. Passage of Time
Even if the individual does not believe that any of the above major life changes have happened, it is always a good idea to review the estate plan at least every two to three years.
If nothing has changed and nothing needs modified, the estate plan will not be need to be reviewed or amended, but as life does change, it is important that the estate plan changes along with it.
Contact Brian M. Douglas, LLC today
If you are not sure you need an attorney, you can always come in for a consultation to discuss your situation. Call us today at 770-933-9009 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a Greater Atlanta area probate lawyer today.