Because your estate plan closely reflects your life, it is necessary to update it accordingly. In fact, many people will update their estate planning documents every five years. This should include a Will, Health Care Directive, and Power of Attorney. A general rule of thumb is when major life events occur, such as having children or getting married, your estate plan should be updated.
Change in Marital Status
Marriage is one of the most common reasons why an estate plan is updated. You may want to incorporate your spouse or perhaps list them as your new power of attorney or health care agent. Similarly, if you divorce or your spouse passes away, you will want to update your estate planning documents to remove your spouse from your estate plan.
Lastly, if your partner and you are not legally married or in a domestic partnership, you may wish to update your estate plan to include your partner. Your partner may not receive a portion of your estate in the absence of a will.
Birth or Adoption of Children
Anytime a child is born or adopted, it is a good idea to update your will. This may include both your children and grandchildren. If you have children, you will need to establish a guardian in the case that both parents pass away. Failure to elect a guardian may result in the court selecting a guardian for you. Once the child turns 18 years old, a guardianship clause can be eliminated.
Parents also may decide to set up a trust for their children, which will hold the child’s portion of the estate until the child reaches a certain age. Trusts can also be used for your grandchildren. Trusts can appear in many different ways depending on your unique situation. It is always best to consult with an attorney about how you would like the estate to be distributed from the trust. When the children reach adulthood, a trust may not be necessary.
It is common for individuals to appoint siblings, close friends, or adult children as their executor and / or trustee in a will or trust. If the current executor and trustee are no longer to able to serve or passed away, the will may need to be updated. Likewise, if your representatives and alternate representatives on your health care directive or attorney in fact on your power of attorney are unable to serve, this will also need to be updated. Failure to update your estate plan when your delegated representatives are not available may result in the court electing them for you.
If you are looking to update your estate plan or have questions about planning for the future, contact our office today. Our estate planning attorneys will assist you in drafting and executing your estate plan to insure you are ready if something unfortunate were to occur. Contact our office today at (763) 783-5146 or submit an online contact inquiry request through our website.