ARTICLE

When to Review Your Estate Plan

Major life events tend to require you to review, change, or update your estate plan. However, these events can be so overwhelming that many people forget to do so. For example, if you have a child, grandchild, or get divorced, updating your estate will be crucial so that your beneficiaries receive the proper assets if something happens to you.

Major life-changing events that require you to review, change, or update your estate plan include:

  • Retirement.
  • When a child or grandchild needs educational funding.
  • Marriage, separation, or divorce.
  • Death or change in circumstances of the guardian named in your will for minor children.
  • Birth or adoption of a child or grandchild.
  • Death of an heir.
  • If you or your spouse receive a large inheritance or gift.
  • Death or change in circumstances of your personal representative, executor, or trustee.
  • Career changes — a new job, promotion, or if you start or close a business.
  • Significant changes to your or your spouse's financial condition.
  • Changes in the number of dependents, such as adding the caring of an adult.
  • A move to another state.
  • When a child or grandchild becomes an adult.
  • Significant changes to your or your spouse's health.
  • Borrowing a large amount of money or taking on liability for any reason.
  • You start taking distributions from an IRA, 401(k) or another qualified plan.

Any of the events can have a significant impact on your family’s financial situation. Thus, reviewing your estate plan ensures that your assets pass on to the correct beneficiaries quickly and easily.

There is no law or guide that states exactly when you should exam your estate plan. However, doing so after a large life event or every 3 – 5 years will allow you to modify the distribution of your assets to evolve alongside you and your family’s needs. Some people look over or even modify their estate plan each year to ensure that it has the flexibility necessary in the event of a large change.

Federal and state laws covering estate planning, taxes, and investments

Federal and state laws constantly change and as such, you should review your estate with an attorney at least every 5 years so that your estate plan does not become outdated. An example of this is from December 2017, when Congress passed a significant change in tax laws. Estate planning attorneys were inundated with work for families who wanted to have their estate reviewed or updated so that they received the best benefits.

State-specific laws also impact your estate plan. Thus, if you move to another state, it is critical for you to have an accredited attorney in your new state look over your documents. There may not be any necessary revisions. However, if there are required changes and you do not have your estate reviewed, there can be severe negative consequences.

Antonoplos & Associates has over 20 years of experience working with estate plans and we are here to review, modify, or answer any general questions you may have about your life estate plan.