Your estate is made up of your assets, property and money … and it is alive. Think of it like a house plant. Once acquired and placed in that perfect spot in the home, you need to provide it with some care to keep it from drying up. So is your estate plan.
Once you have created a solid estate plan, you need to update it whenever there is a life change that is likely to affect your wishes. So which specific life changes call for an update to the estate plan? Good question!
Here are major life changes that should automatically necessitate an immediate review of your estate plan.
Marriage and divorce
Changes to family dynamics happen from time to time. When they happen, it is important that you update your estate plan to reflect these changes. For instance, if you have recently tied the knot, it is important that you update your estate plan to include your new spouse. And if your item of affection has changed, it is equally necessary that you remove your ex from your estate plan. Even if you are not legally married, you may want to consider including your partner in your estate.
Birth of a child
If you have had a child, you may want to update your estate plan to accommodate the new family member. And if your spouse is coming into the marriage with children from a previous relationship, then you may also want to include these stepchildren in your estate plan. Remember, stepchildren are not entitled to your property unless they are expressly named in the estate plan. Also, if you wish to disinherit a child or a spouse, it is vital that you clearly indicate this on your estate plan.
An estate plan is not something you create and forget about. As life’s circumstances change, so should the content of your estate plan. Updating your estate as soon as you go through a major life change will help prevent costly contests down the road.