When Should You Update Your Estate Plan?

Anyone who has created a will or estate plan is well ahead of their neighbors. Studies show that fewer than 50% of all people have any estate planning documents in place. If you’ve taken the initiative to create an estate plan, we congratulate you.

Nonetheless, estate planning estate planning is not a “one and done” proposition. Even the best plan needs updating. Some experts recommend taking a fresh look every 3-5 years, but you should definitely update your plan whenever a significant change occurs. Below, we look at the major life and financial changes that should prompt you to call Plyler, Long & Corigliano, LLP, to speak with one of our estate planning attorneys.

Major Life Changes

It’s probably time to review your will, trust, power of attorney, and other estate documents after any of the following significant life events.
1. You Plan to Get Married or Remarried
If your existing estate plan does not provide for your new spouse, and you wish to do so, updating your existing documents will ensure that this is done. Updating the plan is also important if you wish to provide for step-children in the event of a remarriage.

2. You Get Divorced or Plan to Divorce
Divorce is another major life change in which you should review and update your estate plan. While a divorce will sever your ex-spouse’s inheritance rights and right to act as your agent, in most cases, changing the documents will eliminate confusion and allow you to choose the appropriate people to inherit and act on your behalf.
Additionally, if you are separated from your spouse, but not yet divorced, there are situations in which your spouse could still have inheritance rights in your estate. Reviewing your estate plan in this situation will allow that the appropriate language is placed into your documents to prevent your soon to be ex-spouse from inheriting from your estate.

3. You Have a Child
A new child may change an established estate plan. Reviewing your estate plan will allow you to plan for the child’s inheritance rights as a minor, and name a guardian for the child if needed.

4. Your Personal Representative, Guardian, or Agent Dies or Moves Away
You will want to update an estate plan promptly to name new people to serve in these roles, if you have not named another suitable person to act. If there is no appropriate legal decision maker named to act for you, any suitable person could petition the Court to be your Guardian. If there is no personal representative named, the Court can appoint a public administrator or other suitable person to handle your estate. Reviewing your estate plan in these instances ensures that you are able to choose a suitable replacement to carry out your wishes and act on your behalf.

5. You Move to North Carolina
Estate planning law is specific to each state. Many wills and trusts drafted in Michigan, Iowa, or Alaska are perfectly valid in North Carolina, but it is best to have an estate attorney review it. A move on your part could alter who you want to serve as personal representative or agent.

Major Financial Changes

Sometimes, financial changes should prompt another look at your estate plan.
1. You Gain or Lose Considerable Assets
Major shifts in assets can require a revision to your estate plan. For example, you might have wanted to leave your estate equally to your children. However, you go through bankruptcy and lose your house, which you intended to leave to your daughter. Now she will receive much less than other siblings, so you may need to revisit your estate plan.
2. You Start a Business
You can leave business interests to beneficiaries as part of your estate plan. However, there are important considerations around business succession planning, such as who should inherit it and how to value the business.

Call Us to Schedule a Meeting

Estate planning is an evolving process. As your life changes, your estate plan should change along with it. Please call Plyler, Long & Corigliano, LLP, to speak with one of our estate planning lawyers about how we can help.