4 REASONS TO CONSIDER CHANGING YOUR ESTATE PLAN
Creating an estate plan is an important way to protect your family from the uncertainty that might follow your death or disability. However, after creating an estate plan, you must be certain that it still meets your particular needs and circumstances. As an O’Fallon estate lawyer, I often consult with clients who want me to review their existing documents and there are generally four (4) reasons to consider making changes.
If you have divorced your spouse that you created a living trust and powers of attorney with, you certainly want to make changes as soon after the divorce as possible. Since in almost all cases your now ex-spouse was your beneficiary, executor and power of attorney, you’ll need to consider a new person to meet those needs.
DEATH OF A FAMILY MEMBER
If your spouse or another family member who was part of your estate plan has passed away, you’ll eventually want to have your last will and testament, revocable trust, all beneficiary deeds and living will examined to see what changes should be made. It might be a good idea to consider a new beneficiary or you could consider leaving more to the surviving beneficiaries. If the person who passed away was in charge of your estate when you pass or was an alternate, consider replacing them with another person who is suitable for that role.
Perhaps you created an estate plan to benefit a child who you had a falling out with or who you no longer have contact with. This can certainly be a difficult situation, but it may also affect how you feel about leaving them as a beneficiary of your estate. In Missouri, as in most states, you can easily disinherit (remove) that child from your estate plan by amending your existing documents. Often such removal is not complicated at all and will cost a fraction of what your original estate documents cost. Remember too that if things are smoothed over with that child, you can easily add them back to your documents if you desire.
CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES
This category is a little bit more general. A common example is that most couples create a simplified estate plan when they have their children, primarily to name a guardian in their last will and testament. Years later, however, this estate plan needs to be examined to see if it still makes sense. Perhaps that baby boy is now a mature adult son and so you want to name them as an executor, trustee or attorney-in-fact to assist you down the road with your affairs.
Or maybe your financial situation, like most people, is much less simplified than it was decades ago. As a general rule, the more assets you have the more important it is that you have a proper estate plan in place to ensure the least amount of chaos for your family. That simple will made sense for your and your spouse when you were young parents with few assets. But if you now have more assets and your children are grown, changes should seriously be considered.
I meet with people all the time in needs of an estate plan review. Our office offers a free consultation and in almost all cases at the end of that consultation, I can suggest the changes your estate plan needs, what those changes will mean for you and how much it would cost.