At some point in your life you may have prepared a Last Will & Testament or Powers of Attorney. Perhaps you signed them when your family was young and you needed some documents, “just in case”. Then they were put away in that drawer or filing cabinet and sat there for decades. Have you ever considered that it might be a good time to update them? Let’s review some of the changes in your life that indicate you probably need to consider visiting the attorney to get your estate plan updated.
Your children have grown up. When you initially signed your Will or Power of Attorney, your children were minors. You likely mentioned other family members as your executors or agents in the Power of Attorney. Now, you need to include the adult children in those roles.
You now have grandchildren. The older documents may not have mentioned grandchildren. Now is the time to make sure they are included, particularly as contingent beneficiaries of your children if one of them were to pre-decease you.
Changes in the lives of your children. And what about changes in the lives of family members? Is someone in a bad marriage? Has anyone gotten divorced? Do you need to now remove the soon to be ex in-law? Disabilities may also have developed with one or more beneficiaries requiring special planning, such as a trust. Someone may also have passed away.
Changes in your assets. Perhaps you have acquired more investments or real estate since you drafted your last Will. Maybe you intend the cabin to go to one of your children that enjoys hunting. Do you have a collection that should go to your grandson or granddaughter? With a large retirement account, you will want to think about how the beneficiaries of that account may be different from those in your Will.
Moving to another state? If you are planning on permanently relocating to another state, you should get your documents reviewed and updated by an attorney in the new state of residence. The laws and probate process differ from state to state.
Did you buy property in another state? When you have real estate in more than one state, a Revocable Living Trust is often used to avoid probate in the second state. Otherwise, your family will need to probate in both states, costing time and money.
Have you gotten remarried? The new spouse will need to be addressed in the new documents. How are you going to treat the children from the first marriage? Will they get a share of the estate? Will your spouse be entitled to live in your home when you are gone? Plan carefully with second marriages.
These are just a handful of the reasons that you may want to visit an attorney to update your estate plan. You might also want to consider asset protection planning at that time, including a plan to protect your home from long term care costs.