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Monday, May 14, 2012

5 Events Which May Require a Change in Your Estate Plan

Creating an estate plan is not a one-time event. You should review your estate plan periodically, to ensure it is up to date, and make necessary changes if your personal situation, or that of the people you wish to receive and administer your estate, has changed. There are a number of life-changing events that require your estate plan to be revised, including:

1)  Change in Marital Status: If you have recently been married or divorced, it is imperative that you review and modify your estate plan. With a new marriage, you must determine which assets you want to pass to your new spouse or step-children, and how that may relate to the beneficiary interest of your own children. Following a divorce it is a good practice to revise your estate plan to formally remove the ex-spouse as an heir. While you’re at it, you should also review the beneficiaries listed on any life insurance policies, pensions, or retirement accounts to ensure they are consistent with your estate plan. Estate planning is complicated when there are children from multiple marriages.  If one of your beneficiaries experiences a change in marital status, that may also trigger a need to revise your estate plan. 

2)  Births: Upon the birth of a new child, parents should amend their estate plans immediately, to include in their wills the names of the guardians who will care for their child if both parents die.  In addition, parents and grandparents alike may wish to modify the distribution of assets provided in their estate plans, to include the new addition to the family.

3)  Deaths or Incapacitation:  If any of the named beneficiaries, personal representatives, trustees, or guardians for your children, pass away or become incapacitated, your estate plan should be revised accordingly.

4)  Change in Assets: Your estate plan may need to be changed if the value of your assets has significantly increased or decreased, or if you dispose of an asset.  You may want to modify the distribution of other assets in your estate to account for the changed value or disposition of the asset.  In addition, changes in the estate and gift tax laws can occur at any time.  The current estate tax exemption of $5.12 million is set to expire the end of 2012.  Changes in the size of your estate or in the estate and gift tax laws could make some tax planning strategies advantageous to you and your heirs and devisees.

5)  Change in Employment:  A change in the amount and/or source of income means your estate plan should be examined to see if any changes must be made.  Retirement or changing jobs could also entail moving to another state, and possibly subjecting your estate to the laws of that state when you die.  If the change in income modifies your investing, saving or spending habits, it may be time to review your estate plan to make sure the distribution to your heirs and devisees will be as you intended.

Changes can cause the best estate plans to become obsolete over time. At Foley & Foley, we are here to help ensure that your estate plan is always current and will work the way that you intend by offering regular updating and maintenance of your plan through our Generations Program.   

 

 


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