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When faced with life changes, don't forget about estate planning

Many people wrongly think of estate planning as a one-time event. For most people, however, life changes necessitate that changes also be made to important estate planning documents. While an individual may choose to update or revise estate planning documents for many reasons and at any point in life, appropriate changes and updates should always be made when it comes to the following major life events.

When two individuals decide to marry, beneficiary designations should be updated to include a spouse. If one or both individuals already have a will, revisions will likely be necessary to include a new spouse. For those couples who decide to have children, the birth of a child presents one of the biggest and most important life changes

Once a child enters the picture, parents would be wise to establish or revise a will to include information regarding the guardianship of a child. While no parent wants to think about not being around to raise his or her own child, designating a guardian helps provide peace of mind in the event the unthinkable occurs.

If a married couple decides to divorce, updates must be made to key estate planning documents and beneficiary designations. Additionally, divorcing individuals should take steps to gain a clear picture of their financial situation with regard to monthly income and debts. Having a clear picture of one’s financial health is beneficial when devising a monthly budget and also when contemplating revisions to an estate plan.

Individuals who are nearing retirement age will also likely want to review and potentially revise key estate planning documents. For individuals in this phase of life, questions related to growing and accessing assets and long-term care needs and costs often top the list of concerns. Individuals age 60 and older often want to ensure they have enough money to both live out their golden years and provide for future generations. 

Throughout one's life, there are many life changing events that require changes be made to estate planning documents. Regardless of one’s stage of life or specific circumstances, an estate planning attorney can answer questions, provide advice and assist in devising an estate plan that meets an individual’s unique goals.

Source: Nerd Wallet, "6 Reasons to Update Your Financial Plan Now," Pamela Plick, Feb. 13, 2014

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    — Christine and Robert Simonson, Fairport
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    --David and Ajia Cherry, Fairport
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