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Updating Your Estate Plan

Curious about when you should be updating your Estate Plan? We have you covered. Don’t miss our helpful tips.

Life changes. We change, the people in our lives come and go, and our circumstances and priorities shift. It only makes sense that our Estate Plans change too.

Estate Planning is an often neglected part of financial planning. It's easy to put it off, thinking that we have plenty of time to get our affairs in order. But when it comes to our final wishes and protecting our assets and loved ones, it's best to be prepared, just in case.

If you don't know when to update your Estate Plan and why it's important, read on.

What is Estate Planning, and Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?

Estate Planning is the process of managing your assets in life and designating what will happen to them after death. An Estate Plan also includes your wishes regarding health care decisions, Power of Attorney, and final arrangements.

If you don't already have an Estate Plan, the best time for creating one is now. Don't wait. Despite what you may think about Estate Planning, you do not need to have a certain amount of wealth before creating one. An Estate Plan can be any size. What's important is that your last wishes are known, your assets accounted for, and your family's future secure. Trust & Will can help you create a Trust-Based Estate Plan in less than 15 minutes.

When to Update Your Estate Plan

Most Estate Planners suggest that you update your Estate Plan every three-to-five years. However, there are also common milestones and life events that should prompt you to update your plan.

Here are five reasons why you may want to update your Estate Plan now rather than later:

Moving to another state:

Having a Living Will or Trust in one place does not automatically mean that it will be effective in another. If you move out of state, your Estate Plan is subject to different laws or can even be invalidated.

Living Wills, Powers of Attorney, and even the number of witnesses needed for a Will to be valid vary from state to state. If you live in one of eleven states, you can expect to pay an inheritance or estate tax. If you change residences or acquire a second home in a different state, it's time to update your documents.

Marriage or divorce:

When your marital status changes, so should your Estate Plan. You know the saying that when you marry someone, you aren't just marrying them; you're marrying their entire family. When you get married, you may want to establish a joint Will or Trust that may include your new in-laws and extended family.

If you have gotten married, divorced, remarried, or become widowed since finalizing your last documents, it's best to update your information sooner rather than later. Not to mention, getting remarried and still having your ex's name listed in your Will could make for an uncomfortable situation if you don't take the time to update it while you can.

Buying a house:

Many things will change the value of your estate throughout your life. One of the biggest is the decision to buy a house or another piece of real estate. When you own property, you need a plan for what will happen to it after you die.

Adding your new home to your Estate Plan ensure that your spouse or partner can continue living in the home you shared. Or, you may want your adult children to take over the house you raised them in after your death. Update the Schedule of Assets of your Trust any time you make a large or significant purchase. This can include property, vehicles, and any investments, stocks, and bonds.

A new family member:

The birth or adoption of a new child is the perfect time to update an existing Will or Living Trust. Beneficiaries of a Will or Trust are typically explicitly named in an Estate Plan. This cuts down on the probability that your last wishes can be confused or misconstrued.

If you marry someone who already has children and you become a stepparent, you may want to update your list of Beneficiaries. Alternatively, a parent may want to leave a different inheritance to their birth children and stepchildren.

Children require special consideration in a Trust or Will. Any children under 18 should have a designated Legal Guardian listed in a legally-binding document. In the event of you and your child's other parent's untimely death, naming a designated Legal Guardian will keep your child out of the family court system and in a loving home where they can live a happy life.

When your beneficiaries change:

Adding a new family member isn't the only time your household will affect your Estate Plan. You may wish to change a Beneficiary of your estate if someone has died or if there has been a change in a relationship. If you have taken on the added responsibility of caring for an adult, such as an elderly parent, you may need to update your list of Beneficiaries or Legal Guardians.

How to Update Your Estate Plan

Estate Planning is an essential part of financial planning. Preparing for your future lets you rest easy, knowing that your assets and loved ones are protected. Now that you know when you should plan to update your Estate Plan, here's how to update your existing plan with a Trust-Based Estate Plan from Trust & Will.

A comprehensive Estate Plan includes everything you need to secure your estate for the future. A leader in online Estate Planning, Trust & Will delivers state-specific documents built by attorneys and customized by you. A Trust-Based Estate Plan should include these important documents:

  1. Revocable Living Trust: Designate the management, control, and distribution of your assets during life and after death.

  2. Schedule of Assets: A complete list of your assets, including property, possessions, heirlooms, and digital assets.

  3. Last Will & Testament: Also known as a "Pour Over Will." A legally-binding document detailing how you would like your assets distributed after your death, with references to the details outlined in your Revocable Living Trust.

  4. HIPAA Authorization: Allows trusted family members or loved ones that you specify to receive protected health information.

  5. Living Will: Specify your preferences for healthcare and medical treatment if you cannot speak for yourself.

  6. Power of Attorney: Designate a trusted loved one to work as an agent of your estate, managing your personal and business responsibilities if you are away or otherwise incapacitated.

  7. Healthcare Power of Attorney: (HCPA) appoints a designee (typically a spouse or family member) to make important decisions on your behalf about your healthcare decisions if you should become incapacitated. The person you choose should know your healthcare concerns and end-of-life wishes because they will ultimately be the one who will connect with your healthcare team to determine the direction of your treatment.

Trust & Will can help you prepare for the future, whether you're creating a new Estate Plan or updating an existing one. Get started today.