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When Is the Best Time to Re-Evaluate My Estate Plan?

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We know that life holds uncertainty right now. We do not know what the future has in store for us, let alone the next week. How do we protect ourselves from the Coronavirus, while also ensuring our loved ones are cared for? What will be our best legacy to leave them? What steps can we take now, even during a quarantine, that ensure our wishes can be honored?

Creating an estate plan that accurately reflects your wishes is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Just a few of the things a comprehensive estate plan can do are:

  • Protect assets, 
  • Provide for beneficiaries,
  • Establish health care contingencies, 
  • Reduce tax exposure, 
  • Protect minor children, 
  • Fund higher education, 
  • Eliminate unnecessary family conflicts after your passing.

This is just a start of what we can accomplish through your estate plan. 

More importantly, you do not have to be rich to benefit from a good estate plan. Creating a sound estate plan, however, is not just a one-time affair. As life events transpire for you and external circumstances change, such as tax laws, it is critical to re-evaluate an existing estate plan and make necessary changes. Let us share a few common reasons to consider an estate re-evaluation and make it a priority in your life.

1. Change in Beneficiaries. A marriage, a death in the family, a divorce, or the birth of a new child or grandchild are all reasons to revisit an estate plan. This may require including new family members as beneficiaries, removing an ex-spouse or divorced family member, or planning for a financially immature adult child.

2. Moving to a Different State. Every state has its own laws governing estate planning, and while some aspects of an existing plan may be unaffected, others may need to be revised. Either way, it is a good idea to re-evaluate and potentially make changes.

3. Beneficiaries with Special Needs. If a special needs loved one is named in your estate, then it may be beneficial to explore new ways of providing for them, especially after your passing. Special Needs Trusts and letters of intent are two excellent estate planning options you may want to consider with your estate planning attorney, and know that new laws and government benefit regulations may have changed since the last time your plan was addressed.

4. Powers of Attorney. A power of attorney document gives a trusted person the ability to make decisions on your behalf. These estate documents can be tailored for specific areas, like health care, or provide for financial decision-making authority. With such broad power involved it is important to regularly re-evaluate your chosen “agent.” Perhaps a current power of attorney needs to be revoked, or maybe a durability provision needs to be added in the event you or your spouse become ill.

Other significant reasons to re-evaluate an estate plan include a large increase or decrease in the value of your estate, a catastrophic injury, a child or grandchild reaching an age of majority, or a dramatic shift in financial or real estate markets. We know this blog may raise many more questions than it answers.  If you or someone you love would like more information about re-evaluating an estate plan, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. We are here for you now, and in the future.