When is it important for me to update my estate plan?

by | May 2, 2019 | Estate Planning |

For many New Yorkers, the creation of an estate plan is viewed as final with no changes necessary. Some might have taken a significant amount of time before finally crafting an estate plan to prepare for the future, but when they did they were fully prepared to leave it as is. However, major problems can arise if the document is not updated when changes to a person’s life happen. Even with the most comprehensive strategies for estate planning are frequently insufficient because of a failure to update. There are several reasons why it is important to update an estate plan and having legal advice when doing so is critical.

While a will a trust or other estate planning device is meant to prepare for the testator’s death, others who are named in the document might die first. Failing to change a will can leave a new spouse, children who were born after the document was completed and others facing problems because of this oversight. Tax implications are often ignored. With each new presidential administration, there will undoubtedly be changes to how estates are taxed. For those who have a large estate, creating an estate plan based on the tax laws at the time is wise. But when a new administration comes into the picture and changes the law, this must be addressed in the estate plan to avoid heirs being stuck with a large bill.

Life changes are inevitable. If, for example, a person creates an estate plan and names a spouse as one of the main beneficiaries and the marriage ends in divorce, it is vital to change the document. This is especially true if the testator remarries. Other factors that can arise are the need for long-term care, preparing a power of attorney, an advance directive, caring for special needs children and more. The idea behind an estate plan is to achieve the goals of the testator. When there are minor children, naming a guardian is a wise protective device. Trusts can have certain requirements for the individuals to access the funds. Knowing the potential problems that can arise with failure to update an estate plan can avoid them.

Creating an estate plan is only one part of the process to protect loved ones. Ensuring that it is properly updated to address all foreseeable eventualities can prevent common problems that arise for people who have not taken this important step. Contacting a law firm that has experience in estate planning is helpful when creating the estate plan and when keeping it current.