Despite admitting that they understand the importance of having a comprehensive estate plan in place, nearly half of all Americans acknowledge that they do not have one when asked. If you are among the other half who have taken the time to create a well thought out estate plan you are to be congratulated; however, don’t rest on your laurels, so to speak. Creating your initial estate plan is only the first step toward ensuring that you, your loved ones, and your assets are protected. The next step is to remember to review and revise that plan on a regular basis and when life events call for it. Once you have a better understanding of why reviewing and revising your estate plan is so important it should prompt you to ensure that your plan is always current and up to date.
As a matter of course, an estate plan should be reviewed every three to five years during your working years and every five to eight once you enter your Golden Years. In addition, there are a number of life events that prompt the necessity for a review and revision. Considering how these events could impact your plan should you fail to revise it may help you understand the need to do so.
- Marriage – state intestate succession laws will give a new spouse the right to much of your estate should you die. If you prefer to decide for yourself what your spouse will inherit you need to revise your plan when you marry. Likewise, if a beneficiary gets married, the new spouse may have a claim to assets gifted to the beneficiary. Again, if you don’t want this outcome you must revise your plan.
- Divorce – a common mistake, failing to revise an estate plan after divorce can result in an ex-spouse inheriting from your estate, benefitting from a retirement plan, or even making life and death medical treatment decisions for you should the need ever arise.
- Birth – the birth of a child, grandchild, or other potential heir should always prompt a review of your estate plan so that the child may be included in the plan.
- Death – the death of a beneficiary will directly impact your estate plan because the assets intended for that beneficiary will now go to the beneficiary’s heirs of will go to other beneficiaries, depending on how you structured gifts in your plan. The death of a Trustee, Executor, or Guardian should also prompt a review because now the named successor is first in line for the position.
If you are unsure whether your estate plan needs to be reviewed, schedule an appointment as it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the disposition of estate assets. Contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.
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