An estate plan is a living document that necessarily must change over time. As a single adult, your estate planning needs will likely change as you marry, have children, and accrue assets. Therefore, as you age and major life events occur, you should always be sure to update your estate plan accordingly.
You can count on a Florida estate planning lawyer from Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum, P.A. to work with you to update your estate plan as needed. Contact us today and set up a time to meet with us about your ongoing estate planning needs.
When Major Life Events Occur
You should always review your overall estate plan when major life events occur. For example, when these events happen, you may want to add or remove individuals as beneficiaries of your will, execute or change advance directives, or execute new planning documents as your family grows. Some of the major life events that should prompt you to review your estate plan include:
- Marriage – When you marry, your spouse does not automatically become your beneficiary on life insurance policies . Except for the elective share, homestead laws and certain retirement plans, your spouse also does not automatically become the beneficiary of your estate..
- Divorce – Likewise, when you divorce a spouse, you should immediately take steps to remove that spouse’s name as the beneficiary from any assets that name a beneficiary.
- Death of a spouse or child – Similarly, if your estate plan contains the name of a spouse or child who is now deceased, you should remove that person’s name from your estate plan and substitute whomever you wish to inherit your property in place of that person.
- Birth or adoption of a child – As your family grows, you likely will want to include those children in your estate plan. You also should consider adding new elements to your estate plan, such as who will care for your children if you were to pass away before they turn 18, whether you need to provide for a child with special needs, whether you wish to set up educational funds for a child, or if you wish to make provisions for a child from a previous marriage or relationship.
- Changes in your health – If you develop a degenerative disease or terminal medical condition, you may need to consider what happens if it affects your decision-making capacity. You will want to create a power of attorney, a health care surrogate, and a living will. If you are married, your spouse may also want to update these documents.
When Your Financial Situation Changes
Financial changes are another reason to reconsider your estate plan’s terms periodically. For example, you may not own much property when creating an estate plan. As a result, you may not have spent much time considering tax consequences or making other efforts to protect your assets from the claims of creditors. However, as you age and develop your career, you become more likely to own significant assets you want to protect for your family. Therefore, while you likely should review your estate plan regularly, such as every three to five years, some of the events that should trigger a review of your estate plan might include:
- Buying a home – For many people, buying a home is the largest purchase they will make in their lives. Therefore, any significant property purchase, including real estate, should be included as part of your estate plan so that you can determine who will inherit it after your death.
- Opening or closing a business – An estate planning attorney can assist you in developing a succession plan for your business, including who should take over the business’s day-to-day operations and disposition of the business inventory and assets. If opening the business involved taking on debt, your plan also can include strategies to protect your personal assets from debt collectors related to business debts following your death.
- Changing insurance policies or coverage – Beneficiaries listed life insurance policies generally will take precedence against those whom you have listed in wills. Therefore, whenever you change policies or coverage, you must take steps to ensure that the beneficiaries listed are the ones that you truly want. It also is helpful to keep the beneficiaries consistent across your entire estate plan, between wills, insurance policies, and any other documents.
When Laws Change
From time to time, both state and federal laws drastically change in ways that could substantially affect your existing estate plan. For example, federal tax laws may change or expire, state laws concerning certain advance directives may change, or you may purchase property in another state, which may be subject to a separate set of laws. Whatever the case may be, taking a look at your estate plan every three to five years can help ensure that you stay current with legal developments, both at the state and federal levels.
Furthermore, if you are permanently moving to another state, you should understand that the laws may differ, and your current estate planning documents may not be legal Therefore, you may need to create a new estate plan altogether or take steps to modify your existing documents to comply with the laws of the state in which you now will be residing.
Contact Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum, P.A. to Update Your Estate Plan
A Florida estate planning attorney can provide the services you need to create and periodically update the comprehensive estate plan that best meets your needs. In addition, we can help you take the steps necessary to help your surviving family members avoid the costs and delays inherent in probate administration. Nonetheless, should probate proceedings become necessary, we also offer the full range of probate services.
We have the experience that you need when you are working through complex legal problems while grieving the loss of a loved one. Call us at (954) 966-2112 or learn more about our legal services online. Then, schedule an appointment to speak with us about your legal needs immediately.