Too many estate plans are created and then quickly forgotten, put on a shelf, and never looked at again. While I do recommend that you review and update your plan at least every three years, no matter what happens in your life, your plan must be updated immediately in the event of any of these seven life events.
Getting married is the joining together of two lives. Your plan must address and account for your new legal status. Naming your spouse as a beneficiary on your insurance policies, updating your will and/or trust, and including him or her in the determination of how your financial and medical decisions will be made, if you cannot make them for yourself, are all critical steps to take after marriage.
When you begin the process of getting divorced, you also must update your estate plan, unless you continue to want your future ex-spouse to receive your assets while you're going through the process, and make financial and medical decisions for you, if you cannot.
Once your divorce is complete, you may have an entirely new asset profile to plan for now that you know what you own, what your ex-spouse owns and how you hold title to your assets, so it’s time to update your estate plan.
3. Births and adoptions
Providing for the care and custody of your child in the event of your death or incapacity is paramount in your estate plan. That means naming guardians for your new child, both long and short-term, with a Kids Protection Plan® is a must. And, if you have not already done so, you’ll definitely want to consider setting up a trust for your child, to receive the assets you will be leaving behind.
The death of a loved one is never easy. And when they were a part of your estate plan, their death should prompt a review of your own plan sooner rather than later. You may need to name new beneficiaries, find a new person to hold Power of Attorney, update your health care directive, or identify new guardians for your children. This should not be put on the back burner.
If you are in the midst of an illness, you may want to revisit who you have chosen to make medical decisions for you, in the event that you cannot, and how you want those decisions to be made.
When you move to a new state, have a lawyer review your estate plan to ensure your documents will still operate as you desire. Some documents may need to be revised and you will certainly want to ensure any new real estate you acquire in your move is accounted for and properly transferred into your plan.
7. New Assets Acquired
More money means more problems, but only if you don’t plan well. Revisit your estate plan each time you change investment accounts, inherit any assets, acquire new property or other investments, or start or sell a business. Most plans fail because they do not take into account all of the assets owned by the person who died.
If you are anticipating or have recently experienced one of these major life events, contact me. It’s time to update your plan.
This article is a service of the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC, an estate planning law firm in Honolulu, Hawaii. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by contacting our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
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