After creating an estate plan, we like to think that we may never have to go through that process again. However, there are times in our lives that necessitate re-evaluating our Last Will and Testament. Three primary examples of when to take another look at your Will are below.
You have children: Upon the birth of their first child is most often the time people create their first Will. Creating a Will when you have small children allows you to appoint a guardian for the children and a conservator of their money if both parents pass away. It also allows the creation of a Trust to hold the child’s assets until the child reaches the age of majority or an age deemed appropriate by the parents. If a couple has a subsequent child or children, it is most often not necessary to redraft the Will. You should call your attorney to verify the validity of the Will to subsequent children. Likewise, if you remarry you should recreate your estate plan to acknowledge your new family.
The value of your estate increases: If you created a Will a while ago and your estate substantially increased, it is likely time to have your Will re-evaluated by an estate attorney. There are tax shelters and trusts that can be created to protect our estates from the changing tax laws and avoid potential estate tax issues for your heirs. A good estate attorney should be able to review your old Will and let you know if your estate had reached the point where a new, more complex, plan would better suit your needs.
Your children are grown and you are moving into retirement: Perhaps the most important timeto have our Wills rewritten and property reviewed by an Elder Law attorney is
in this stage of life. It is so important to have a solid estate plan as we move into retirement for many reasons. As a couple reaches this stage of planning, we move from planning for our children’s care to planning for our own long term care and planning to shelter our estate from forced government benefits spend-down. It is of crucial importance that we do this kind of planning while both spouses are alive and in good health, if at all possible. Doing so will allow the greatest opportunity to shield the government from getting portions or all of the estates people have worked so hard to accumulate and protect.
When one spouse enters the nursing home or passes away: When one spouse enters full time care or passes away, the remaining spouse should go to an attorney to plan for the future of that spouse’s affairs. Doing so as quickly as possible will allow the remaining spouse the best opportunity to protect assets for his or her children and to create the best long term care plan for him or herself.
When a life change presents itself, talk to an Elder Law or Estate Planning attorney and review your estate plan. My initial consultations are complementary and the time it takes to review your plan can offer you a substantial future savings and peace of mind as life moves forward.