When should I update my estate plan?

You have an estate plan in place, that’s fantastic. While we recommend updating your plan when there are changes to the law, there are also some other times in your life when you should review or update your plan:

You’ve Changed Your Mind – Life happens and relationships change.

  • Do you still want the same fiduciaries?
  • Are your beneficiary designations accurate?
  • Have you decided to add or change a charitable giving aspect?

You Became a Parent – Oh the joys! Now you have this little one you need to ensure some things for.

  • Who will take care of him/her upon death or incapacitation? Have you named a guardian?
  • How will life insurance benefits and other funds be distributed?

Your Children are Adults – Yes, this happens so quickly. Apparently guess the old adage of time going faster as you get older really is true.

  • Do staggered distributions still make sense?
  • Do all of your children’s lifestyles and habits coincide with your wishes for distribution?
  • Should one or more of your children now be your fiduciary or power of attorney or the one who would make health care decisions for you?

You Became a Grandparent – Wait, what? Where did the time go and how is it possible you’re a grandparent? Didn’t you just have your own kids yesterday?

  • Will your assets pass through to your grandchildren?
  • Would you like to set-up 529 accounts to provide for a grandchild’s education?
  • What about an IRA, a 401(k) or a life insurance policy?
  • Should beneficiary designations be updated?

Death of a Loved One – Sadly this is a fact of life for many people.

  • Do you need to update your beneficiary?
  • Do you need to update your fiduciaries or other representatives?
  • Did your financial situation change?

Changes in Relationships – If you get married or divorced one of the items on your to-do list is to update your estate plan.

  • If it is not your first marriage consider things such as marital and family trusts, step-children (and grandchildren).
  • Do you need to update your beneficiary?
  • Do you need to update your fiduciaries or other representatives?

Your Financial Situation Changes Significantly – This includes financial windfalls and setbacks.

  • If you’ve had a setback do you still want to designate a specific amount of money to a charity? For example, if you had designated $50,000 to your church and you are now only worth $100,000 your children could receive less than you wish.
  • If your estate has increased in value the plan you originally had may not be the best one to avoid taxes.
  • Do you now want to consider charitable giving?
  • Does your plan include business planning?

Bad Health  – Getting diagnosed with a terminal illness or degenerative disease can serve as a reminder to be sure your estate plan is up-to-date and carries out your current wishes.

  • Is your health care representative the right person? Sometimes a spouse is too close to the situation to make tough decisions.
  • Have you had detailed conversations with your representatives and fiduciaries?
  • Have you considered gift tax exclusions?
  • Would you like to pre-plan your final arrangements?

While many of these conversations are difficult to have, any significant life change can serve as a good reminder to revisit your estate plan. Our estate planning team is here to help you navigate and create individualized plans. If you are unsure if your plan is up-to-date give us a call and we’ll help you determine if it is. We can also be reached at estateplanning@rinkenoonan.com

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