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Is it Time to Update Your Estate Plan?

 

It is an important step to take when you create your comprehensive estate plan with the help of a skilled attorney. However, many people make the costly mistake of assuming this initial estate plan will remain effective indefinitely. If you create an estate plan and fail to review it, the plan might not accomplish the goals that you intended. 

 

Our circumstances in life change on a regular basis and your estate plan should always reflect your current situation – not your past situation. There are times when it is especially important to review your plan with an experienced Austin estate planning attorney to ensure it reflects your goals and identify any necessary updates or amendments. 

You experienced changes in your family.

There are many different changes that can happen in your family situation that would warrant updating your estate plan. This is because estate plans not only revolve around the property of your estate but also your beneficiaries and trusted loved ones. Some events that should lead to a review of your estate plan can include:

 

  • Marriage 
  • Long-term relationships when you decide not to get married
  • Divorce or separation
  • Having a child, as well as each new child you have
  • Remarriage when you have children
  • Having a spouse or close family member pass away
  • Losing a relationship with a close friend or family member who was in your estate plan

 

Not only do family changes mean that you might need to update the beneficiaries of your will or trust, but they also might mean changing your executor, trustee, or power of attorney. These are all critical designations, and you want to ensure your documents are updated, so the right individuals are named for specific roles. 

The nature of your estate changed.

Many people go through financial phases throughout life, and the value of your estate can increase or decrease substantially for many reasons. Every time your estate value changes, consider whether you want to update your distribution instructions in light of the circumstances. For instance, if you experience a windfall, you might want to include beneficiaries in your estate plan who otherwise might not be included, since there is more to share now. If your estate decreases, you might want to update your plan to focus on the beneficiaries closest to you. 

 

You should also update your plan if you sell a major asset, such as a home or business, that was a primary part of your estate. The same goes if you acquire a business or real estate that is now part of the estate. Significant changes in the composition of your estate also warrant a review of your plan.

You had an interstate move. 

Every state has the ability to make its own laws regarding estate planning requirements. While it might not seem like small differences in the law will have a major impact on your estate plan, moving to a new state can affect the effectiveness of many estate planning documents, and unexpected complications might arise. 

 

For example, your new state might have requirements for a power of attorney that did not apply in the first state. This could render your existing power of attorney document unenforceable. Other documents that might be affected include an advanced medical directive, your last will and testament, living will, and more. 

 

There also might be additional laws that affect an automatic inheritance by a spouse or the disinheritance of a former spouse. There might be different child guardianship standards, estate tax liability, gift tax rules, and more. If you move to Texas, it is important to have an experienced estate planning attorney who understands how to update your estate plan in line with Texas law

It has been a couple of years.

You do not need a major life event to happen for you to review your estate plan. Scheduling periodic reviews with your estate planning lawyer can help to ensure that all of your bases are covered, and your estate plan reflects your current wishes. Things can change over time, and you should not allow your estate plan to become outdated, as it will not provide the protections you originally intended.

Contact an Austin Estate Planning Attorney for Help Today

At Kirker Davis LLP, our Austin estate planning lawyers assist clients from many types of family and economic backgrounds keep their estate plans up to date. If you would like to learn more about our estate planning services, please call 512-598-0010 or contact us online today to set up an appointment with a member of our legal team.

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