Planning out your estate is not a one-time event. Whenever your family goes through an important life change, your estate planning documents should be updated to reflect your wishes. Because so much can happen over the course of a year, it is helpful to choose a date that you can remember and review your estate documents on an annual basis. If your family has undergone any of the following changes, make sure to speak with your estate planning attorney about updating your will.
Remarriages and Divorces
Families change all the time. For that reason, new marriages and divorces are one of the most common reasons to update a will or other estate planning documents. These documents should be changed not only whenever the person making the will (known as the testator) gets married or divorced, but also whenever a family member who is in the will changes marital status.
People who plan out their estates want to make sure that their children and grandchildren are provided for. Whenever there is a new birth, adoption, or a marriage which brings in new step-children, testators should be certain that their will accurately reflects their wishes.
Change in Executors or Trustees
Trustees and executors administer a person’s estate after their death. They are in charge of distributing assets, and will remain in charge until the estate has been closed. This is an incredibly important job that may be performed by a family member or friend, or could be assigned to a professional executor who is often an attorney or financial professional.
No matter how fully an estate is planned out, no one can be certain that the trustee or executor named in the estate planning documents will be able to administer the estate. Executors or trustees may be ill or could have passed away, or the bank or corporation which holds the assets or trust may close or merge. No matter the circumstances, it is wise to update a will the name of a successor executor or trustee in case the first person named cannot serve.
The laws regarding estates, taxes, trust funds, and other inheritance issues change constantly. It can be difficult for the average lay person to keep up with the news or understand how certain changes may affect their estate. For example, in former President Obama’s last State of the Union Address, he proposed a plan to close the “trust fund loophole” by increasing the capital gains tax. Any changes like these would need to be accounted for in the estate plan so that your heirs—and not the government—receive as much of your estate as you intended.
Not everyone’s golden years go as planned. Whenever there is a change in a person’s finances, his or her estate plan should be updated to reflect the difference. This is true if the change is positive, like winning a large sum of money, or negative, like dealing with a lengthy illness. By updating your will to reflect your current financial state, you will have a better idea of your ability to provide for your family after your death.
It is important to remember that a will or an estate plan is a living document which is meant to change as your life changes, and there are numerous circumstances which would justify changing or updating a will. For example, if the testator moves out of state, or has a change of heart about a certain gift, the will should be updated to reflect that. Or, an unexpected development may require the testator to completely restructure the estate. For instance, a child born with special needs or a disability could justify the creation of a special needs trust meant to provide a lifetime of care.
No matter what the reason, at the Law Office of Jonathan M. Galler, P.A., an experienced Florida estate planning attorney can help protect your estate and guard your legacy. We can help you plan for your family’s future, and will work with you to update your estate planning documents as needed.
To schedule an appointment, contact us today by calling 561.881.6912.