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Time to Update Your Estate Plan

Mary Hilger 06/04/2019

Do you already have an estate plan? If yes, that’s a great first step! However, when was the last time you updated your plan? If you haven’t updated your plan in the previous few years, then you need to see an estate planning attorney. Estate plans need to be updated from time to time, especially after a significant life event – marriage, births, death, and changes in federal and state laws.

So, when should you update your estate plan? Here are a few significant changes in your life when you should update your plan.

  • You have had a significant change in wealth

We would all love to win the lottery or receive a substantial growth in wealth. Maybe you haven’t won the lottery, but if you created your estate plan more than 10 years ago, your financial status has probably changed. You may not be at the federal estate tax exemption limit ($11.2 million), but you should meet with an estate planning attorney to make sure you are using federal and state tax law to the best of your ability. 

However, maybe you have had financial difficulties in the last few years. You want to make sure your estate plan reflects that so that you are still able to leave assets to your loved ones without creating issues in the future. 

  • Who and how you want to leave your assets to have changed

As life changes through the years, maybe the people you originally named to receive assets from your estate plan either need more financial help or less. Perhaps you named your children as the beneficiaries of your estate plan, and one of your children has a huge financial burden from a nasty divorce, but your other child is now the CEO of the company they started. You should meet with an estate planning attorney to make sure your estate plan reflects how you want your assets distributed to your beneficiaries. How you set up your estate plan years ago may not be the best way to distribute your assets today. Being equal does not always mean it is fair.

  • You have had a new child and/or grandchild

Having a new child or grandchild can be such a joyous event in your life, and the last thing you probably want to do is sit down with an attorney to update your estate plan. However, we cannot stress this enough – you need to sit down with your estate planning attorney to make sure your new child or grandchild will be specifically named in your estate plan; otherwise, you could face conflict in the future. 

  • Divorce

Have you or someone named in your estate plan gone through a divorce? If so, it’s time to update your estate plan. If you have gone through a divorce and your now ex-spouse was named as a key player in your estate plan, they need to be removed. Also, if someone you named as a Successor Trustee or Executor has gone through a divorce, maybe they are no longer able to fulfill their duties in that role. 

  • The people you have named in specific roles are no longer able or willing to serve

When you first created your estate plan, you probably put a lot of time and thought into who you named as your Successor Trustees, Patient Advocates, and Agents. However, if it’s been a few years, you need to meet with your estate planning attorney to make sure who you have named are still able and willing to fill each role. If they are great! If not, it’s a great time to update each role. 

  • You are moving to a new state

Estate plan documents are not national, they have specific state laws and requirements that they have to follow. Including the number of witnesses, how the notary signs or the state law differs on the dollar amount you must leave behind for a spouse. If you are planning a move to a new state or have already moved, you need to meet with an estate planning attorney who is licensed to practice in that state to make sure you update your estate plan documents accordingly.

If one or more of the above events have happened to you, it is time to sit down with an estate planning attorney. Call us at 616.888.3810 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys to update your estate plan today!

Thacker Sleight

grand rapids office  •  616 888 3810
601 5th street nw, suite 210
grand rapids michigan 49504

grand haven office  •  616 888 3810

saugatuck office  •  269 857 9120

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