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Making an estate plan is a great way to prepare for leaving your property to your loved ones. Whether you set up a trust or prepare a will, estate planning gives you and your family the peace of mind that they will be taken care of in the event of your death. Nevertheless, things happen throughout your life that can have an impact on your finances or family. When these occur, you may need to make estate plan updates. This is why so many of our clients ask us, “How often do you have to update a will?” Let’s take a look at some of these life events that will require you to at least review if not require you to update estate plans.

1. Marriage or Divorce

Getting married or divorced can be the biggest reason to update your estate plan. If you divorce, you are going to want to change the will to remove your ex-spouse. Similarly, when you get married, you will need to add your new spouse to your will or trust. This can also be impacted if you enter into a prenuptial agreement with your spouse. 

2. Birth of Children and Adoption

When you add a new child to your family, either by birth or adoption, you will need to add him or her to your estate plan. This can go for your own children, as well as for your grandchildren if you have grown kids. You can have your attorney add them to a will as a prospective heir or as the beneficiary of a trust. The number of children and grandchildren could have an impact on how you divide up your estate, so you will want to address this when the time comes.

3. College Graduations

One of the proudest events for a parent is when their child or grandchild graduates from college. This is why some people include special bequests in wills and trusts to help pay for the college education of their family members. When one graduates, you may need to alter the estate plan to remove this item from a will or trust.

4. Deaths

Unfortunately, one of the most tragic life events is the death of a loved one. If this happens to someone who was a named heir in a will or beneficiary of a trust, then just as you had to add someone who was born into your family, you may need to remove them from an estate plan upon their death.

Death can also have an effect on your will or trust documents. If someone who was named in the will as the executor of your estate or the trustee of your trust pre-deceases you, then you will have to update your estate plan to name someone else if the documents don’t already provide for a successor. 

5. Moving to a New State

Estate plans are governed by the laws of each state. Therefore, a will or trust that complies with the law in Ohio may have issues if you are living in Kentucky at the time of your death. Therefore, if you decide to move to another state, you will have to have your estate plan reviewed to make sure it satisfies the laws of your new resident state.

6. Retirement

When you retire, your financial needs will change, just as your ability to generate income. If you are like most retirees, you will be living on a fixed income dictated by how much cash your investments, retirement accounts, and social security will generate for you in any given year. You should have your estate plan reviewed at the time of retirement to make sure you have enough money to fund your life going forward.

7. Changes in assets

Our investments do not remain static over time. For example, many folks are invested in the stock market, which has seen massive fluctuations in recent years. In addition, you may sell your home at some point and buy a new one. Whenever you see a significant increase or decrease in the value or condition of your assets, you should consider updating your estate plan to better reflect the new financial reality of your situation.

8. Changes in Wishes

If your family is like most, then you probably get along better with some relatives than others. You may also experience a falling out with a once-beloved son, daughter, or grandchild. If this happens, you may consider altering your estate plan to reflect this change in your relationship. Furthermore, you may have a child with special needs in your family or one that has incurred a massive amount of debt. When this happens, you may consider altering your estate planning to reflect the need for a trust to shield the assets, while protecting the loved one involved.

Book a Call with Us So We Can Help You with Your Estate Planning Needs

If you are thinking about making changes to your estate plan, then you need the help of experienced attorneys to guide you. At Shaw & Nelson, our team will work with you to make sure your estate planning wishes and needs are properly fulfilled.