If you have an estate plan in place, you are better prepared than over half of all Americans. Surveys tell us that despite understanding the importance of having an estate plan in place, over half of all Americans have yet to create one. Having even the most basic estate plan in place offer protection to you, your assets, and your loved ones as well as ensuring that your wishes will respected with regard to the disposition of your estate assets when the time comes. Once your plan is in place, however, you cannot simply forget it. On the contrary, you will need to review and revise your estate plan several times over the course of your lifetime. With that in mind, the Affton estate planning lawyers at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC ask “Have you updated your estate plan lately?”
Creating Your Initial Estate Plan
Ideally, your initial estate plan will be created when you reach adulthood. At that time, your plan may consist of nothing more than a Last Will and Testament to ensure that the few assets you have are distributed according to your wishes in the event of your untimely death. As you move through the natural stages of life, however, you will find a need to review and revise that plan as additional estate planning goals become important to you.
Reviewing Your Plan Routinely
A simple Last Will and Testament may suffice while you are young, have yet to start a family, and have few assets of value. As you grow, however, your estate plan should grow with you. When you get married, or enter into a committed relationship, you will find that you wish to protect your partner and ensure that he/she has the legal authority to make personal and/or healthcare decisions for you if the need arises. If you become a parent, you will also want to include your child in your estate plan. The growth of your estate itself will also require some changes in your estate plan. Because most of our family and estate growth occurs between the ages of about 25 and 50, it is a good idea to review and revise your estate plan every three to five years during this period of time. After age 55, a routine review of your estate plan should happen every five to seven years.
Events that Warrant a Review
Along with scheduled reviews, there are times when an immediate update of your estate plan is also called for because of a life event. Recognizing which events require an immediate update to your estate plan is critical. Some common life events that should prompt you to schedule an appointment with your estate planning attorney include:
- Marriage (both your own marriage and the marriage of a child, or other beneficiary)
- Divorce (both yours and a beneficiary’s)
- Birth of a child
- Child attaining the age of majority
- Death (death of a beneficiary or the death of a fiduciary, such as your Executor or Trustee)
- Move to another state
- Starting a business
- Major change in assets (your plan should accommodate changes in assets; however, a major purchase or sale, such as a primary residence or business, should prompt a review)
- Entering a long-term care facility
Failing to update your estate plan when one of these life events occurs can have serious, negative, ramifications. Imagine, for example, that you failed to update your estate plan after your divorce and your ex-spouse was the major beneficiary after your death or continued to have the authority to make healthcare decisions for you during a period of incapacity. The only way to avoid something like that from happening is to be vigilant about reviewing and revising your estate plan, both as a matter of routine and when a life events requires it.
Contact Affton Estate Planning Lawyers
If you have additional questions or concerns, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar, or contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.