Perhaps you’ve always been the type of person who plans ahead. For instance, if you know you must wake up early for work the next day, you lay out your work clothes and set the coffee pot the night before. If this describes your personality, you might also be among those in Florida who have already executed a basic estate plan. If so, congratulations.
The thing about estate plans, however, is that the process is not a once-and-your-done kind of thing. Many issues and life changes can arise that necessitate amending your estate plan; however, it’s not uncommon for estate owners to overlook this step, which can cause complications when the time comes to administer an estate. To avoid such problems, conduct periodic reviews of your plan to check if updates are necessary.
Have any marriages, births, divorces, remarriages or adoptions occurred?
Changes in marital status or family size may compel you to update your estate plan. This is true whether you are the one who has gotten divorced or remarried, become widowed or whether one of your children has done so. If babies have been born or someone has adopted a child, you might wish to incorporate their names as beneficiaries to your estate.
If a divorce has occurred, you might decide to remove a name listed in your will to inherit part of your estate. You can make additions to your estate plan at any time, provided you are of sound mind and not under duress when you do so.
Have you decided to omit someone from your will?
If you listed a non-relative as a beneficiary to your estate and later decide that you do not want that person to receive an inheritance, you can simply update your estate plan and omit the name. When the beneficiary in question is an immediate family member, you may have to explicitly state in your will that you are excluding him or her from an inheritance.
Additional changes that prompt an estate plan update
The following list includes numerous other issues that may occur, which create good reason to update your estate plan:
- Change in income (increase or reduction)
- Change in business (the launch of one or closing of one)
- Diagnosed with a disease (might wish to incorporate an Advance Directive)
- Change in tax codes or state laws
Not updating your estate plan might lead to an awkward situation, such as a former spouse listed as a sole beneficiary when a current spouse exists. It’s helpful to ask someone with estate planning experience to help you review your plan on a regular basis. This helps keep a plan current and updated, which means the probate process will be less stressful for your loved ones.