When Should You Review Your Estate Plan?
No one knows what the future may bring, so if you have not yet planned your estate, you should begin that process as quickly as possible. It is imperative to review your estate plan carefully on a regular basis. A Jefferson County estate planning attorney can help.
Generally speaking, your estate plan should be reviewed at least every three to five years, but if your estate is complicated or extensive, you should review your plan more frequently. When there has been a significant change in your life, do not wait – update your estate plan at once.
Everyone’s needs, circumstances, relationships, and finances change as the years go by. Your estate plan in Missouri can provide for your loved ones, any businesses you own, and even for your pets, but you must keep your estate plan current in order to keep those provisions in place.
What Life Changes Will Affect Your Estate Plan?
The major life events that may require you to update your estate plan include but are not necessarily limited to:
- a birth or adoption
- a marriage or divorce
- purchasing a home
- purchasing a new life insurance policy
- starting or closing a business
- a change in your health
Birth or Adoption
You will probably want your estate plan to include any new members of your family. Your estate plan should explicitly name your beneficiaries, and it should also designate someone you trust to act as a guardian for your minor children if you should pass away before your children turn 18.
If you have a special needs child or grandchild, a Jefferson County estate planning lawyer can help you set up a special needs trust to ensure that your child or grandchild will be cared for properly should you become incapacitated and after you have passed away.
Marriage or Divorce
A spouse has a legal right to inherit a percentage of a married couple’s shared property, but you must explicitly name your wife or husband if you want that person to inherit your estate, have access to your financial and insurance accounts, and make medical decisions on your behalf.
In the event of a divorce, if you do not want your former spouse to inherit anything or to make medical decisions for you when you cannot make those decisions yourself, you should remove your ex-spouse’s name from all of your estate planning documents as quickly as possible.
Purchasing a Home
Any major real estate transaction will require an update to your estate plan. A Jefferson County estate planning attorney can help you ensure that your home will go to your spouse or children upon your death.
The states have different requirements for recognizing the validity of a will, so you will also need an estate planning attorney’s guidance to update your plan if you relocate to a different state or if you purchase a property in another state.
Purchasing a New Life Insurance Policy
You will need to revise your estate plan if you purchase a new life insurance policy or if you make any significant change to your life insurance coverage.
The persons who are named as beneficiaries in life insurance policies typically have legal precedence if other persons are named in trusts or wills, but having all of your documents in agreement can prevent confusion – and unnecessary legal expenses – for your loved ones.
Starting or Closing a Business
The interest you own in a business, whether or not you are the owner of the company, will be inherited, so you must explicitly name the heir or heirs in your estate plan. If you start or close a business, you must revise your estate plan to reflect that change.
If you are the owner, you may gift your entire company with your estate plan and even leave instructions for managing the operation after your death.
A Change in Your Health
Your estate plan should name someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you can’t. Your plan should include financial and medical powers of attorney and a living will. You should also consider Medicaid planning to protect your assets should you need long-term medical care.
Are There Other Reasons to Review Your Estate Plan?
Estate plans are always subject to changes in state and federal laws, so – and this cannot be stressed strongly enough – it is imperative to review your estate plan on a regular basis. A yearly review is not too frequent, but do not let five years go by without reviewing your plan.
Any failure to keep your estate planning documents up-to-date may cause unnecessary confusion and expenses for your loved ones when that time comes, and it could also mean that your wishes may not be honored.
For instance, if you name a guardian for your minor children but that person is no longer available (for whatever reason) after you pass away, your children could conceivably be raised by someone you would not have chosen.
When Should You Prepare Your Estate Plan?
If you are an adult in Missouri, and if you have not yet prepared an estate plan, it’s never too early – and never too late – especially if you have a family or own any significant properties or assets. The time to prepare for tomorrow is today.
A Jefferson County estate planning lawyer will walk you step-by-step through the planning process and ensure that your estate plan meets your needs, protects your assets, and provides financial security for your loved ones if you are incapacitated and after you have passed away.
Let Grafe & Batchelor Prepare the Plan That’s Right for You
Good estate planning requires the right attorney and the creation of a number of complicated and detailed legal documents. The attorneys at Grafe & Batchelor have more than three decades of combined legal experience, and they are familiar with all of your estate planning options.
After meeting with you and reviewing the details of your estate, the team at Grafe & Batchelor will help you prepare an estate plan that is easily understood and does not generate unnecessary confusion or controversy. Your first consultation with us is provided with no cost or obligation.
If you need to review your estate planning documents now – or if you’re ready to begin the estate planning process – your first step is scheduling a consultation with Grafe & Batchelor by calling our law offices at 636-220-5934. The attorneys at Grafe & Batchelor are ready to work for you.