Congratulations! Your estate plan is set, your beneficiaries are named ... you’re done, right? Not so fast. In the oft-quoted words of the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus: “Change is the only constant in life.”
If you’ve had a big life change, it is a good time to review your estate planning documents, to ensure your plan continues to reflect your wishes. It also makes sense to review life insurance or investment accounts where a list of beneficiaries has been made. Here are a few life events that could trigger a review of your documents.
A New Baby
New life is a beautiful celebration. While it may not be your first thought upon greeting your new little bundle, it is a good idea to reflect on how this new child or grandchild will factor into your plans. Each new addition through birth or adoption should warrant a review of your documents, to confirm all members of your family are considered in your plans. If you are a new parent, make sure you’ve recommended a guardian for your child, in the event you and your partner are no longer able to care for them.
A Divorce or Marriage
Whether a spouse is entering or exiting your life, it is essential that the change in relationship be mirrored in your financial accounts and estate plan. At a minimum, be sure to consider changes to joint accounts and carry out a brief review of your estate plan to determine if additional changes are needed. You may also wish to review your power-of-attorney documents in anticipation of such a change, to make sure the correct person is named as agent even before the change is finalized. The details will be unique to your specific situation, but remembering to remove or add a partner to your plan can be easily overlooked.
Unfortunately, we often cannot see what's coming around the corner. The unexpected passing of a loved one can come as quite a shock. Ideally, your estate plan would already address what happens if your spouse or a beneficiary passes away. However, it is a good idea to make sure! This may mean reallocating property or possessions, and/or adding secondary beneficiaries if the primary beneficiaries predecease.
Life changes can be a whirlwind, and it is easy to get caught up in the daily routine of our current season of life. But slowing down and taking the time to update your estate documents will provide peace of mind for you and a simpler process for your loved ones, should anything happen.
If you have questions about how life changes may impact your plan, please feel welcome to contact me directly at (608) 826-3503 or firstname.lastname@example.org.