Creating an estate plan is just the first step to ensuring beneficiaries are taken care of when one is no longer around. However, having an outdated estate plan is just as bad as having no estate plan in place, as beneficiaries may have been left out or relationships may have changed to the point where someone has to be removed. Updating an estate plan is just as important as creating one and below are some times when wills and estate plans should be revised:
Birth of a first child
Most people create their wills when their first child is born. At this point, the will should include the name of the child’s guardian in case the parents are unable to take care of their child and to create a trust and appoint a trustee to manage it. The provisions should be flexible enough to accommodate future children.
Before a divorce
It is better to update an estate plan before filing for divorce. Once someone files for divorce, they cannot update their estate plan until the divorce is finalized. And if someone passes away during the divorce, their spouse will have marital rights to a portion of the estate.
After a divorce
Even if a will is not changed, states will take into account a divorce when distributing an estate. If beneficiaries and guardians are not changed though, the court can do nothing about that. Therefore, these appointments have to be updated.
Death of a named beneficiary
If an executor or named beneficiary passes away, it is time to update estate planning documents. Similarly, if an executor develops substance abuse problems or a beneficiary develops bad credit or accumulates debt, it might be time to reevaluate wills and how money is going to be distributed. Perhaps a trust may be a better option if a child is struggling with debt.
Estate planning documents such as wills, trusts and guardianships are tools to protect loved ones financially after one passes away and prevent family disputes at an emotionally trying time. Those who want to make sure they have enforceable and valid documents in place may want to consult an experienced attorney for guidance on how to proceed.