A common mistake when it comes to Estate Planning is the idea that: “If I’ve done it once, I’m set.” A plan may be flexible for some things, but there are certain big life changes that require an update to your estate plan in order to ensure your wishes will be carried out.The biggest change most people experience is a growing family. A spouse, kids, nieces and nephews, and close friends are often the first answers to questions like “who gets my stuff” and “who will take care of my affairs when I can’t.” The people you trust and care for the most in your 30s are often not the same as in your 60s. While there is limited legal protection for unmentioned children, these rules do not protect everyone. Any time you add people to your circle of loved-ones, it is a good time to consider updating your estate plan to include them.
Another event affecting your estate plan can be a change in what you own. Different assets need to be handled differently, so it is important to be sure each asset is treated correctly in your plan. For example, a new home or vacation home may need an updated deed placing the property in your existing trust. Similarly, changing employers and/or retirement plans may need an update to designated beneficiary forms. As you up-size, down-size, and reorganize your life, it is important to keep your estate plan current.Even the most sophisticated estate plan cannot predict the future. A good plan is both well designed and up to date. Your plan is a snapshot of your wishes when it is created. Regular maintenance is necessary to be sure that everything matches your current wishes. In most cases, these maintenance checks are free of cost if no changes are needed, and offer the extra benefit of keeping you updated on potential changes to State and Federal law that may affect your plan.