An estate plan is a set of legal documents that helps determine how someone’s affairs should be handled at the end of their life. Many people create estate plans early in case of an emergency. However, these estate plans often sit around collecting dust, which can create issues for beneficiaries.
When an estate plan isn’t updated, then the testator’s last wishes may not be fulfilled. There could be assets not accounted for in the estate plan, for example. It often helps if testators update their estate plans every three to five years so there are no discrepancies between what they have written down and their goals — although it may be wise to act sooner in certain situations.
Were you recently married or divorced?
Marriage can bring a lot into a person’s life. A recently married testator may wish to alter their estate plan to include their spouse. They could name their spouse as a beneficiary or power of attorney. A spouse could also be named as a guardian if the testator has children from a previous relationship. Conversely, many of these changes are reversed after a divorce. For some people, however, an ex-spouse may still be included in their estate plan.
Did you recently have a child?
Having a child can cause a lot of anxiety for new parents. One thing that could help parents is updating an estate plan for the benefit of their child. Parents could name guardians in their estate plans who could care for their children if their parents should die before their children are grown. Or, a trust could be made and funded so that a child can live comfortably when they become an adult.
There are a lot of questions testators can ask before they consider updating their estate plan. For example, did a beneficiary pass away? Did you recently move out of state? Or, are you having issues with a power of attorney or guardian? Testators may need to reach out for legal help to decide if now is the right time to make changes to their estate plan.