Life is a series of changes – both expected and unexpected. Just as our lives are dynamic, our estate plans should reflect these changes. A plan that was once tailored to your specific needs might not serve you the same way after significant life events. Regularly reviewing and updating your estate plan ensures that your wishes, assets, and beneficiaries are always in alignment with your current circumstances and desires.
Key Events That Necessitate a Review
While periodic reviews are a good habit, certain life events should trigger an immediate review:
Marriage or Divorce: Both of these significant milestones can dramatically affect how assets are allocated or who is designated for specific roles.
Birth or Adoption of a Child or Grandchild: A new family member may mean you want to include them in your will or set up trusts for their benefit.
Death of a Beneficiary or Trustee: This unfortunate event can leave gaps in your plan that need to be addressed.
Substantial Increase or Decrease in Assets: Major shifts in your asset portfolio can mean rethinking how they’re distributed.
Changes in State or Federal Laws: Laws related to estate planning and taxation are subject to change. Staying updated ensures your plan is compliant and optimized for any new legal landscapes.
Benefits of Keeping Your Estate Plan Current
Prevents Family Disputes: Clearly stating and updating your intentions can minimize potential disagreements among family members after you’re gone.
Optimized Financial Strategies: Regular reviews can help in optimizing your financial strategies, potentially reducing tax burdens or leveraging new financial instruments.
Peace of Mind: Knowing that your plan is current provides peace, knowing that your loved ones are taken care of and your wishes will be honored.
Engaging the Adult Children in the Process
As the senior generation, involving your adult children in the estate planning process can be beneficial. It not only educates them but ensures that they’re on board with your decisions. This transparent approach can prevent misunderstandings and ensure smoother transitions. If your adult children are actively involved in your or their estate planning, introducing them to the review process can also be an educational experience.
How Often Should You Review?
While significant life events are a clear signal, it’s a best practice to review your estate plan every 3-5 years. However, if you have a more complex estate or if you’re aware of impending changes (like shifts in legislation), more frequent reviews might be necessary.
Getting Started with Your Review
If it’s been a while since you last looked at your estate plan, or if you’re uncertain about its current status, don’t fret. Start by:
Gathering All Documents: This includes your will, trusts, powers of attorney, and any other related documents.
Making a List of Changes: Reflect on the past few years and jot down any significant life or asset changes.
Consulting with Professionals: Estate planning can be complex. Seeking guidance from professionals ensures that your plan is both current and optimized for your specific needs.
The Ever-Evolving Nature of Estate Plans
Estate planning is not a one-and-done endeavor. As life changes, so should your plan. The goal is to ensure that your end-of-life wishes, and the legacy you leave behind, aligns with your current circumstances and vision. Regular reviews guarantee that your intentions are clear, assets are protected, and your loved ones are cared for.
Contact Beasley & Ferber
If you’re ready to review or update your estate plan, or if you simply have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. At Beasley & Ferber, we’re committed to helping you navigate the complexities of estate planning, ensuring that your plan remains both robust and relevant. If you have any questions or need expert guidance, please contact us. Our dedicated team is here to assist you.