Planning your estate requires that you think about some unpleasant issues, like your death. When you finally invest the time and energy into creating an estate plan, you probably want those terms to last for years.
However, an estate plan isn’t something that you can just set and forget like a kitchen appliance. No matter how broad or careful you tried to be when creating the plan, there is no way to predict what the future will mean for your family or your property.
If you have experienced any of the four circumstances below since planning your estate, you may need to update it soon.
Added a new member to your family
Having a child needs a lot of adjustment for you, your spouse and your older children. It also means you need to take the time to add your child to your estate plan. Failing to do so might mean that your youngest child won’t receive an inheritance unless they challenge your will in probate court.
You got divorced
Spouses typically feature prominently in each other’s estate plans. They are often the beneficiaries of insurance policies and the person named in powers of attorney or advance medical directives.
If you don’t update your estate documents after your divorce, your ex could have access to your bank accounts or the right to make medical decisions for you during an emergency. They could also inherit your property when you die or receive the payoff from your life insurance policy.
After you sell or buy major assets
If the main asset that you discuss in your estate plan is your home, you will need to update the distribution of your assets after you sell the home during your retirement. If you start a new account or acquire a significant and valuable asset, such as a home or a business, you will want to add those assets to your estate plan specifically. Otherwise, the person whom you would like to inherit that property may not receive it.
When you plan to remarry
When a spouse dies or you divorce, you will update your estate documents and beneficiary designations to reflect that change. You may also need to create new documents if you decide to remarry later.
Especially if you have children from your first marriage or a prior relationship, creating specific documents may be the only way to ensure that your children still receive an inheritance if you die before your new spouse.
Recognizing when it is time to update your estate plan can help you leave a meaningful legacy behind when you die.