If the biggest estate planning mistake that people in Cape Coral make is not having a plan, surely the second most common error is not keeping their plan up to date. Like any other legal document, your estate plan is not set in stone. It can be modified and amended. And unlike a contract, you do not have to negotiate with another party to make changes. As a testator, it is up to you to change your estate plan as you see fit.
Unfortunately, many people do not realize that they can — and should — make periodic updates to their will, trust and other estate planning tools. When they pass away, parts of their estate go to individuals they no longer have a relationship with, such as an ex-spouse. Meanwhile, people who have entered their lives since they finished their plan, such as a new child, stepchild or spouse, are left with nothing to honor the relationship you shared.
Here are five reasons to meet with your estate planning attorney to review your plan and determine if updates are necessary.
You got divorced or got married again
Once your divorce is final, you probably will not want the inheritance your former spouse receives to remain at the same level. In fact, you likely will want to disinherit them entirely, especially if you have gotten married again or started a committed relationship with someone new. A change in marital status is a good time to update who your heirs and beneficiaries are.
Your financial situation has changed
Whether your income and the value of your assets has improved or dropped significantly, consider amending your estate plan. Major changes to your financial strength could lead you to change how your assets will be distributed.
Your executor and trustees are no longer appropriate
The individuals you named as the executor of your will and trustee of your trust may have since died or become too ill to handle their responsibilities. Or when reviewing your plan, you may decide that someone else would make a better choice, given current circumstances.
You moved to a new state
If you moved to Florida since creating your estate plan, there could be differences between Florida’s estate planning and probate laws and the laws in your old state. Updating your plan accordingly can ensure you avoid an unintended result.
Time has passed
Finally, even if nothing major has changed in your life since you created your estate plan if more than three years have passed, it is time to review the plan. There may be things in there that you would like changed that you may not realize until you go over your estate planning documents.