Creating an appropriately thorough estate plan can take some time and effort. A lot of this is attributable to learning your estate planning options and figuring out what you want for the future of your assets and your loved ones. And yet, even though you might feel relieved to have created your initial estate plan, you shouldn’t forget that you need to revisit your estate plan from time to time to ensure that it’s meeting your needs in light of changed circumstances.
When should you consider modifying your estate plan?
Although you should periodically look over your estate plan to make sure it still aligns with your wishes, there are major life events that should also spur you into action. After all, if you fail to modify your estate plan, changed circumstances could leave your assets in the hands of someone you don’t want to inherit your assets. It can also leave loved ones you care about with nothing.
So, when should you modify your estate plan? Here are some triggering events that might justify giving your estate plan another look:
- Divorce: Whether it’s your own marriage dissolution or that of a loved one, you’ll want to revisit your estate plan to ensure that ex-spouses aren’t going to obtain your assets if, in fact, that’s what you want.
- Death of a loved one: If a loved one passes away, you’ll want to clarify your estate plan so that there’s no confusion about who will take control of the inheritance that was originally intended for the individual who is now deceased.
- Marriages: If you or a loved one gets married, you’ll want to consider modifying your estate plan to either incorporate that spouse into your inheritance scheme or to block them from accessing your estate’s assets.
- Acquisition of a new asset: If you make a big purchase, you’ll want to loop that asset into your estate plan. If you don’t, your family members could end up fighting over it, which may be costly and strain relationships.
- Changed relationships: If you have a falling out with a loved one and no longer want them to inherit from you, you need to specify as much in your estate plan. Also, if you build a stronger relationship with a family member or friend, you might decide to put them in your estate plan or leave them a bigger portion of your estate. Under these circumstances, you’re still going to have to reflect your changed wishes in your estate plan.
- You no longer trust a named executor or trustee: If you’ve identified people to manage your estate once you’re gone but you’ve come to question their judgment, you might want to consider changing who is going to be responsible for your estate’s financial decisions. After all, an inappropriately managed estate can cause harm to your heirs and beneficiaries, and it may even lead to extensive and costly litigation.
Consider talking to an attorney before modifying your estate plan
Although it’s necessary to revisit your estate plan from time to time, it’s also critical that you realize the ramifications of your actions and know which estate planning tools will best protect your vision of the future. That’s why many people turn to an attorney for assistance. So, if you could use a helping hand when dealing with your estate plan, now may be the right time for you to look for an attorney who you think will best protect your interests.