The Importance of Updating Your Estate Plan

Planning one’s estate can be a complicated, and often emotionally taxing, experience. For these reasons, many testators are more than happy to put estate planning out of their minds when the process is complete. While the comfort of knowing that your family will be taken care of in the event of your unexpected death should not be understated, it is also important to remember that reviewing and perhaps changing one’s estate plan is encouraged and often necessary after major life changes, such as a divorce or the birth of a child.

If you and your family recently experienced a major life change and have questions about how it could affect your own estate plan, it is critical to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney who can ensure that your loved ones are provided for in the event of your death or incapacitation.

Maintaining Your Estate Plan

Although maintaining one’s estate plan can seem inconvenient, the reality is that failing to make updates after a life change can cause major complications, whether the change is a happy occasion like the birth of a child, or an unfortunate event, such as the death of a spouse. In fact, many experts encourage testators to review their wills every four years, regardless of whether they have experienced any significant life changes. Using this time period as a rough guideline can help account not only for any changes that have occurred in a person’s life, but also for any changes in the law.

Significant Life Changes  

Many people treat their estate plan as something that is permanent once it is completed. While it is true that a person’s initial will could be considered permanent if left unchanged, estate plans should grow and change in conjunction with a testator’s change in priorities or circumstances.

There are a wide range of events that could qualify as a significant life change when it comes to affecting an estate plan, including:

  • The birth or adoption of a child;
  • Divorce;
  • The death of a spouse of child;
  • The sale of a business interest or other asset;
  • Inheriting or acquiring a new asset; and
  • A significant gain or loss in the estate.

All of these events could play a role in how a person wants to dispose of his or her assets after death, so it is important for testators to review their estate documents when these changes occur. For instance, many people choose to leave gifts to organizations or friends in their wills or trusts. However, these types of relationships often change over the course of a person’s life, a fact that would ultimately affect how that individual’s assets are distributed.

Contact a Northbrook Estate Planning Attorney Today  

Creating a will or establishing a trust is an important responsibility, as is maintaining and changing that estate plan if necessary. To ensure that your own legacy is protected, please contact one of the estate planning lawyers at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law today. You can reach a member of our legal team by calling 847-325-5559 or by completing one of our brief online contact forms.

Updated as of July 2019
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