Our lives are continually changing. We go from a child to an adult, from single to married, from a couple to a family, from parents to grandparents, from one house to another…etc. Our lives are made up of change. Since your estate plan is created to protect you and your family, it makes sense that it needs to change over time as well.
Here are a few examples of situations where it is important to update your documents after a major change in your life.
Just because you have married someone does not mean that person is automatically included in your estate or will be the executor. You need to make sure that your documents are updated to include your spouse and any changes that the marriage may have caused in your property and asset information. Also, if your marriage is joining two families together it is vital that you have an updated estate plan. Estate distributions can get very tricky for combined families, so it is important to make your decisions now and have them recorded properly in your living trust.
Any time there is an addition to the family it is a blessed occasion – one that should be planned for in your documents. Your minor children need to have a guardian listed in your estate plan in case something happens to you and your spouse. You should also ensure that the funds of your estate will pass to your children and set up how and when you want those distributions to occur.
Many states dictate that a divorce revokes the provisions of a will or trust that applies to the former spouse, which requires the creation of new estate planning documents after a divorce. You should also make sure that your former spouse is no longer listed on your HIPAA, Power of Attorney or beneficiary designations.
The older we get, the more we acquire. In fact, we tend to have more assets, more property, life insurance, retirement plans…etc and all of these need to be planned for accordingly. In most cases, you will have significantly more assets than you did in your 20s and 30s. This means it is time to reevaluate your planning and ensure that these additional assets area protected and planned for. You will also want to make certain that your estate does not exceed the estate tax exemption and will want to take advantage of some advanced planning opportunities if it does.
Death of a Spouse or Beneficiary
If your spouse or beneficiary passes away, there will be important steps you need to take for your estate planning documents. If a beneficiary passes away you will need to update your documents to remove them as a beneficiary and potentially change the way the distribution of your estate is set up. If your spouse passes away, you will likely have to create new documents to protect the assets which are now solely in your name. You also may have aspects of the estate that will have to be administered depending upon how your planning was set up. After any death that affects your estate plan, you should always meet with your estate planning attorney.
After any major life change, make certain you meet with your estate planning attorney to review your documents. At Morris Hall we do not charge our clients to review their documents. In fact, we actually will review documents from other firms/attorneys at no cost as well. If you are ever unsure about the current status of your estate plan and would like a free review, simply call to schedule an appointment with an MH attorney at 888.222.1328.
Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall? First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters. Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones. We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership. If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!