Despite understanding the importance of having an estate plan in place, surveys show that over half of all Americans do not have one. If you are in the minority and have created an estate plan, don’t stop there! Taking the time to set up your initial plan is only the first step to ensuring that you, your loved ones, and your assets are protected should something happen to you. Conducting periodic reviews of your plan as well as updating the plan when life events call for it are just as important as creating the plan in the first place.
As a matter of course, you should review your estate plan every three to five years just to be sure that your plan is up to date with all current laws and incorporates all of your concerns and wishes. Sometimes, however, significant events call for a more immediate review of your estate plan, such as:
Death – most people think to review their estate plan following the death of a beneficiary; however, the death of a trustee, executor, guardian, or even your attorney should also call for a review of your plan.
Birth – although you can include future born beneficiaries in your plan from the beginning, it is always best to include them by name once they are actually here.
Marriage – your own marriage should certainly cause you to review your plan but so should the marriage of a primary beneficiary – particularly if you are concerned about the new spouse sharing in the gift you left to the beneficiary in your plan.
Divorce – if you go through a divorce it is imperative that you review your estate plan both during and after the divorce. Some changes cannot be made, by law, until the divorce is finalized; however, unless you want your ex-spouse to inherit from you and/or benefit from life insurance or retirement plans you should update your plan immediately after the divorce is final.
Move – state laws relating to probate and other estate planning issues can differ. If you move to another state, therefore, you need to review your plan to determine if any changes need to be made to conform with the new state’s laws.
Assets – a review is not warranted for every sale or purchase of assets; however, if you significantly change your asset and/or investment portfolio it only makes sense to review your estate plan as well.
If you are uncertain whether a life event warrants a review of your existing estate plan, contact your Illinois estate planning attorney for guidance.
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