Your Needs, Your Goals, Your Legacy

3 life events that are signs an estate plan update is necessary

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Estate Planning

In some ways, adults with any estate plan on record are essentially ahead of the curve. Quite a few people do not even have a basic will, let alone a comprehensive estate plan protecting them from medical emergencies and other challenges.

However, an estate plan is only useful for as long as the documents within it remain valid and enforceable. As the testator’s personal circumstances change, their estate plan may need to change too. Otherwise, people could challenge their documents in probate court after they die. Certain life events make revising an estate plan necessary. The following are three of the most common personal experiences that warrant a prompt review of estate planning documents.

Becoming a parent

Having a child, adopting a relative or securing foster placement of a vulnerable child are all ways for people to become parents. There are so many exciting aspects to parenthood that people may fail to consider the very practical need to support their new family member even if something might happen to them. Having a child or otherwise adding to a family can change what someone needs to include in their estate plan. They may need to add a guardianship designation naming someone they trust to care for their child. They may also need to add their child to their will as a beneficiary or create a trust for their inheritance.

Divorcing a spouse

Whether someone decided to file or got blindsided by a spouse’s decision to divorce, their estate planning needs to change when their marital status does. People typically want to remove their spouses from their estate planning paperwork. Including the spouse as a beneficiary is common practice. It may be necessary to remove them from a will. People may also need to remove their spouses from positions of authority in trusts or living documents like powers of attorney. They may also need to check documents that they filed with insurance providers and financial institutions to fully remove their spouse as a beneficiary.

Preparing for retirement

In the final months leading up to retirement, it is common for people to review their estate plans. Their assets and relationships may have changed in recent years, making it necessary to adjust beneficiary designations or what assets they include in their paperwork. They may also want to address the possibility of future long-term care needs. Engaging in Medicaid planning or asset protection planning can be smart when people worry about living on a fixed income during retirement. The estate planning updates they make prior to leaving their jobs can help ensure their comfort and financial stability during their golden years.

Making a point of occasionally checking estate plans every few years and modifying them after major family changes can help people ensure their documents are valid. A testator who updates and reviews their documents regularly can feel confident about the protection that their estate plan provides.