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7 Reasons It’s Time For You To Update Your Estate Plan

Feb 20, 2024 | Estate Planning

If you’ve invested time and effort into working with a seasoned attorney to craft a comprehensive estate plan, you might not know what a significant impact you’ve made on your and your family’s future. By taking this important step, you’ve really set your family up for success down the road.

Think of the documents in your estate plan as a roadmap that’ll guide them through tough times if something unexpected happens to you, like an accident or illness that leaves you incapacitated, or if you pass away. They won’t have to play detective to figure out what you wanted, which means fewer arguments between those you love and less confusion. Plus, a well-thought-out plan makes sure your money and belongings end up where you want them, giving your loved ones some peace of mind about their finances too.

By getting your estate plan sorted with a skilled attorney, you made a decision to ease the load on your family if something tragic happens. Sorting out stuff like healthcare decisions, who takes care of the kids, and other crucial matters can be a huge relief for them. It’s like giving them a safety net for when things get rough. But remember, an estate plan isn’t a one-and-done deal. Once you’ve got it all down on paper, you still have to stay on top of things. Your commitment to planning ahead doesn’t stop once you’ve signed the papers.

It’s recommended that a person review and update their estate plan at least once every 3 years, but it’s especially critical in the face of any of the following 7 reasons:

    1. The Family Dynamic Has Changed.

There may be many different changes to the family dynamic that occur over the years and warrant a change to your estate plan, including:

  • The birth or adoption of a new child or grandchild
  • A child or grandchild becoming an adult
  • A child or grandchild needs educational funding
  • Death or change in circumstances of the guardian named in your will for minor children
  • Changes in your number of dependents, such as the addition of caring for an adult
  • Marriage or divorce
  • Illness, disability, or death of your spouse
  • Death, illness, or disability of a family member
  • Death or change in circumstance of your executor or trustee

The more updated your estate plan is, the more accurately it will reflect the needs of the individuals you consider most important in your life.

    2. The Estate, Tax, Or Probate Laws Have Changed.

Unfortunately, the government will not be extending a courtesy phone call to let you know when federal or Alabama state laws have changed, though we all may wish that were true! By making sure you regularly review your estate plan with your attorney, you can ensure that your documents remain legally compliant with current guidelines. The most recent example of this happened in 2012, when Alabama’s law on power of attorney got a complete overhaul. Changes like these happen more often than you think, which is why it is crucial to stay consistent with your estate plan reviews.

    3. Your Financial Circumstances Have Changed.

Since your estate plan deals heavily with your finances, it is especially imperative to update it in the face of changes to your fiscal circumstances, which might include:

  • A significant increase or decrease in your overall wealth
  • A significant change to your income
  • The purchase or sale of major assets like real estate, businesses, or investments
  • Inheriting a large sum or experiencing a significant windfall
  • Substantial changes to your debt levels
  • Changes to your investment portfolio
  • And more!
    4. Your Goals Have Changed.

As you evolve and life takes its twists and turns, your long-term goals and priorities might also shift. For instance, you might get involved in a charity or some other form of giving-back endeavor, and decide you want to earmark some of your money for them after you pass. Or maybe your health outlook changes, and you feel like tweaking your living will or other end-of-life instructions. When you give your estate plan a refresh, you can rest easy knowing it still mirrors your wishes and stays in sync with your current values.

    5. Your Beneficiaries Have Changed.

Certain assets, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts, typically require you to designate beneficiaries. As relationships evolve or your preferences change, it’s important to review and update these designations to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and to your intended recipients.

    6. Your Health Has Changed.

Changes in your physical or mental health, especially if they’re deteriorating, should prompt a review and potential update of your estate plan. It’s vital to ensure that it still reflects your wishes, particularly if you anticipate difficulties making decisions independently in the future. If you haven’t already established a living will, any advance directives, or appointed a healthcare proxy, now is the time to take action.

Additionally, consider whether adjustments to your financial arrangements are necessary to cover potential healthcare expenses. Planning for the future isn’t just about the present moment; it’s about ensuring that your plan is equipped to support you and your loved ones in the long run, even when you may not be able to advocate for yourself.

    7. Your Executor And/Or Trustee Designations Have Changed.

Various circumstances, like a death or prolonged disputes, might lead you to reconsider the choice of your executor or trustee. These individuals play a crucial role in managing your estate, so if they are deceased or if you no longer wish to appoint them to oversee your assets, it’s important to seek assistance from your estate planning attorney to make the necessary revisions. They can help ensure that your estate plan reflects your current wishes and circumstances accurately.

The Ladd Firm Makes Estate Planning Painless, Every Time

Whether you already have an estate plan that needs revising or if you haven’t yet taken the time to create one yet, you can trust our experienced attorneys to simplify the process. Our firm has been helping Alabamians plan for and protect their future for nearly 30 years! You can take the first step by participating in our educational estate planning seminar, during which you learn more about your options. This seminar is available in person, as well as on-demand for your convenience. Then, you can schedule your free phone consultation with one of our lead attorneys. Call today to get started!

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