You have done your due diligence and created an estate plan. So, you are protected for good, right? If that is your way of thinking, you may have critical gaps in protections for yourself and your loved ones. While you do not have to revisit your estate plan monthly (or sometimes even annually), there are reasons to revisit it from time to time.
Certain situations can also prompt a relook, and possibly new draft, of your estate planning documents, too. Therefore, knowing the top reasons to revisit your estate plan can help you determine if it is time to revisit and possibly rework your existing plan.
Reason 1: You Have Had Changes to the Family Dynamic
Changes to your family’s make-up definitely warrant a revisit. You can let your estate planning attorney know about these changes, and they will help decide if those impact your estate plan.
Some family changes that warrant a look at your existing plan include:
- Divorce – Your spouse was likely named as a beneficiary in your estate plan, and if you are divorcing, now is definitely the time to adjust that beneficiary. Do not forget to also change it on any beneficiary designations with financial institutions, as your estate plan does not impact the name on those accounts.
- Marriage – If you have recently tied the knot, or re-tied the knot, now is the time to update your estate plan and name your new spouse as your primary beneficiary (if you wish to do so).
- A New Child – Whether you adopt or have a new child naturally, that child is not part of your estate plan unless you go back and name them as a beneficiary. You can add stepchildren to an estate plan as well.
- An Adult Child’s Divorce – Perhaps your adult child’s marriage has fallen through, but you had named his or her spouse in the estate plan. Now is the time to remove them but allow any children they had to receive benefits from the estate.
Reason 2: Your Health Situation Has Changed
Any new health changes definitely warrant a look at your estate plan. You might have been in perfect health at the time you drafted your original plan, and now you find yourself suffering a long-term ailment.
Long-term care is a huge financial burden. Furthermore, if your estate plan has not reviewed any health care proxies, now is the time to name one. A health care proxy is a person who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. They will carry out any wishes you have in that Advanced Healthcare Directive, including end-of-life care or lifesaving care you wish to receive/not receive.
Reason 3: You Have Retired
If you created an estate plan while employed, but you are nearing retirement or you have retired, you need to reassess your estate plan. While it may not impact you immediately, it will if you plan to start using retirement funds as a source of income. Therefore, you want your attorney to reassess how your assets are allocated, and how retirement impacts your ability to qualify for Medicare or Medicaid in the future.
Reason 4: You Have Acquired or Removed Assets
Any assets in your name should be part of your estate plan. Whether you have a will or you have created a trust, you need to make sure you update your list of assets the moment you acquire them or sell them off.
For example, you created a trust three years ago and moved all assets into the name of that trust. However, since then, you purchased a rental property, which is still in your name and not under the trust. If you were to pass away, that rental property does not automatically pass to beneficiaries like the assets in your trust; instead, it will be subject to probate.
Make sure your list of assets is updated the moment they change to avoid any issues later on.
Reason 5: It Has Been a Few Years
As a rule of thumb, you should revisit your estate plan every other year – at a minimum. While you might not have had any big changes in your life, the laws most likely have encountered a few changes. Those changes could impact your ability to pay for long-term care later, or how your beneficiaries are taxed on their inheritances. Therefore, you want to sit down with your attorney, go over any law changes and how they affect you, and make the necessary adjustments.
For example, the recent changes to Medicaid coverage for community care are a reason to revisit your estate plan. If you have not created a trust or started distributing assets to lower your existing assets, but you plan to seek long-term care, your attorney may start the spend-down process so that you are not affected by the 2.5-year look-back window.
Estate laws are continually changing, and while there may not be significant changes, very minor ones carry a large, long-term impact. So, meeting with your attorney to discuss those alterations and how they affect your future is critical – and part of estate plan maintenance.
Ready for an Estate Plan Visit? Schedule Your Appointment Today
Whether we drafted your initial estate plan, or you need to meet with an attorney to create a new one or revised one, the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. can help. Estate planning laws are continually changing, but we stay on top of those changes to ensure our clients are protected.
Meet with us for a free case evaluation, and we can help you decide if now is the time to revisit your estate plan and rework it. If you do not have an existing plan, we are more than happy to discuss your options and help find the best solution to protect you now as well as in the future.
Schedule your consult today – we can even do it over video conference! You can also request more information about our estate planning services online through our contact form.