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Changes you may need to make to your most recent estate plan

You may have an estate plan in place, but have you ever updated it? Many people forget to alter their estate plans over the years. This can create problems during the probate process when it is unclear how certain unaccounted for assets should be distributed.

It is often recommended that people should update an estate plan every 3-5 years to address new assets and other concerns. However, there are many reasons that you may potentially want to update your estate plan sooner than that.

Adding or removing a spouse

Many people believe that their spouse should take high priority in their estate plan. They may name their spouse as their executor, beneficiary or power of attorney. These are roles with lots of responsibilities. However, a spouse may need to be removed from an estate plan after a divorce. This is often done to protect an estate from being mismanaged or neglected. On the flip side, a new spouse may need to be included in an existing plan, as failing to do so can cause problems for them in the event of your death.

Planning for your child’s future

There are many ways an estate plan can be used to benefit children. For instance, a trust could be made to prepare a child for college. Or, a child guardian could be named to care for a child if a testator and the child’s other parent are not able to do so. These efforts may require more immediate attention than a 3-to-5-year review window allows for.

Changing long-term care directives

An important part of an estate plan is naming a power of attorney. A power of attorney can help make healthcare decisions on behalf of the testator. A testator can make their wishes clear about their long-term health goals by naming a power of attorney. If this designation has yet to be made – or if changes need to be made – this is an urgent enough need that it should be addressed immediately.

It is never too late to update your estate plan. Seeking personalized legal guidance is a great way to get started.

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