By Linda E. Becker, Esq.
I always encourage my clients to develop an estate plan early and then to review and update that estate plan regularly. Many things can change throughout your life, and your estate plan needs to change with it. When your life changes, your will should, too. Here are four significant life events that require you to update your will:
- Marriage – It is important to anticipate conflict. Inheritance conflicts can often be the final straw for some families, with members vowing to never speak to one another again. Special circumstances require special planning; for example if you have re-married, you must balance the financial and emotional needs of your spouse with those of your natural children. A pre-marital or a post-marital agreement will minimize conflict at death by clearly stating the relative entitlements of spouses and other beneficiaries, such as your children but not of the marriage. Your own marriage certainly warrants an estate plan update, however, the marriage of any beneficiary is just as important. You’ll want to be sure that your plan provides for exactly whom you wish and that your beneficiary does not end up unintentionally splitting any inheritance that you’ve left for them.
- Birth or Adoption of a Child – Everyone should have a will, but it is even more important if you have children. Although most plans will allow you to incorporate future born or adopted children, it is always best to incorporate any new child by name. While, no parent wants to think about it, it is imperative to ask the dreaded questions, who would raise your children if you couldn’t? Naming a guardian is an important part of your will. And if your children are young, you want to make sure an adult whom your trust, will manage any money they inherit before they’re ready to handle it themselves. Having an updated will in place will allow you to make decisions about your children’s future care. This is especially crucial if you are single parent or if both parents die in a common incident.
- Starting a Business – If your estate has experienced a substantial change in value, it is essential to take another look at your will. Whether you want to start a business, or own your business, wish to keep your business within your family, or sell the business, you will want to update your will to protect your most important assets, your family. Regardless of what you want to do with your business, careful planning will ensure your family will be provided for. If you want to take care of your business and your family even after you’re gone, you need to plan what will happen to your estate, and that includes your business.
- Death – Too often people take a sign-it and forget-it approach with their estate plan documents. It is important to keep your estate plan up to date because circumstances change over the course of a lifetime. Reviewing your estate plan is always necessary upon the death of a family member, especially the death of a spouse. While wills should be written in such a way that there are backups for everything, it does pay to review a will if your spouse has died because you may feel differently about things if that were to happen, and you might want to distribute your assets in a different manner. You might also need to provide new backup recipient to your will. This also applies to the death of any beneficiary or anybody that you may have named as a Trustee, Personal Representative, Guardian, or other fiduciary. You should update your will if you have had any changes in your family situation, as these changes many affect how your estate will be distributed.
If you are in the midst of any of these life events and are interested in updating your will, call me at 720-460-4207 or visit my website for additional information: http://beckerlegalservices.com/.
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