Reviewing Your Estate Plan

Many people believe that estate planning is a one-time event and that after creating a trust or drafting a will, a testator’s work is done. In reality, testators are urged to monitor their wills and trusts regularly to ensure that they reflect any changes in the testator’s circumstances. If you live in Illinois and are either considering creating a will or have already planned your estate and want to make any changes, it is important to speak with an experienced wills and trusts attorney who can ensure that your will or trust reflects your wishes and complies with state law.

Major Life Events

Although there are a number of reasons that a person may want to review his or her will, one of the most common motivators is the occurrence of a major life event. For instance, a testator who drafted a will when he or she was married, but has since divorced, remarried, and had additional children will probably want to reconsider how his or her assets are distributed. Alternatively, a person may begin working with a charity after creating an initial will and decide that he or she wants to leave some assets to the organization, which would also require an amendment. Other common events justifying the review of an estate plan include:

  • The births of children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or the children of friends;
  • The adoption of a child or grandchild;
  • Children reaching the age of majority;
  • Starting a new business;
  • A change in tax laws;
  • Relocation;
  • The creation of new pension plans or insurance policies;
  • A change in circumstances of an executor, guardian, or trustee;
  • The remarriage of the testator, a child, grandchild, or other relative;
  • The death of a beneficiary; and
  • Changed financial circumstances.

Making Alterations

Upon review, a testator may decide that it is appropriate to change the terms of his or her estate plan. This could include:

  • Changing the name of the executor;
  • Naming a guardian to care for a child in the event of the death of the testator and his or her spouse;
  • Redistributing property to account for the births or deaths of beneficiaries;
  • Naming a new trustee of a revocable trust; and
  • Removing assets and property that have since been sold, lost, or given away.

Even if no major changes have occurred, testators are still urged to regularly review their estate plans, even on a yearly basis if necessary. In fact, many testators choose to review their wills towards the end of the fiscal year when they are beginning the process of planning their taxes.

Contact an Experienced Wills and Trusts Attorney

Estate planning is an ongoing process, so if you have undergone a recent major life change or have not reviewed your will or trust in over a year and live in Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, or Northbrook, please contact Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law today to schedule a case evaluation with an experienced wills and trusts attorney who can help you ensure that your estate will be distributed in accordance with your wishes.

Updated as of July 2019
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