Big life changes often mean that it’s time to review your estate plan. As I’ve written in other articles on this blog, my life has been full of changes in the past two years. The biggest change is that in a few months I’m expecting to become a father. That’s not all – my wife and I purchased our first house this year as well and she has made a transition to a new job.
As we wade through the Styrofoam peanuts that seem to come in unnecessary abundance with every piece of baby furniture we put together, trying to get everything situated in the house for ourselves and a baby, and are focused on making repairs to necessary appliances (hot water, anyone?), we aren’t thinking about estate planning.
That’s kind of a lie because I AM thinking about estate planning. It’s what I do as an attorney. But I can almost guarantee that my wife isn’t and truthfully I’m not thinking about our own plan. We should be. Our parents probably should be. If you and your family have gone through major life changes recently, you should be too.
You don’t need a lawyer to start the process. The first step is to become goal oriented. You already know what changes have occurred in your life. Now is the time to sit down and think about how that changes your goals. Perhaps your son or daughter has been blessed with an unanticipated bundle of joy. Do you want to provide for your new grandchild in your estate plan? Perhaps the last time you had documents drafted you never anticipated a grandchild and the documents reflect that.
Once you’ve decided what your goals are, it’s time to visit your estate planning attorney. At this point, an attorney will provide you with guidance as to how you can meet your goals and may even bring out some issues you didn’t consider.
Babies aren’t the only change that should prompt you to review your estate plan. Death of a close family member, marriages, and divorce are reason to examine what you’ve created as well. As a rule of thumb, I also recommend that my clients review their estate plan every five years or so to make sure it is up to date.
If a milestone or two has passed since the last time you thought about your estate plan, or if like me, you’ve reached a milestone that has you considering estate planning for the first time I encourage you to meet with an attorney to consider your options. With your new plan in place, you can rest easy (unless, of course, you’re expecting a baby, have weddings to attend, have children about to enter college, have home repairs to make, etc.)!