Do you update your Florida estate planning strategy as often as you should? This article details a few reasons to make changes to your plan.
Life is full of unexpected changes, which is why many people choose to create an estate plan – to protect against unforeseen circumstances that can affect how assets get distributed between family members and other beneficiaries.
If you have an estate plan in place, it’s crucial to understand that it is not a one-time precaution. You must update your plan regularly to ensure that your estate is handled according to your wishes.
How often should you update your estate plan? The answer depends on what is going on in your life. Here are a few reasons you should update your estate plan.
4 Reasons to Update Your Florida Estate Planning Strategy
You have inherited, sold, or purchased new assets.
When you gain or lose assets, your estate plan should change to account for the changes. For instance, if you inherit a piece of property – say the family home – and you want to ensure that it passes to only one of your children after you are gone, you can adjust your estate planning strategy to designate who will inherit it.
Likewise, if you purchase a valuable asset, you need to update your plan to reflect what you want to happen to it once you pass away. On the other hand, if you sell an asset, such as a business, you may need to consult a Florida estate planning attorney to remove business partners from your list of beneficiaries.
You have experienced changes in your health.
Declining health is a common part of getting older. If your health starts to deteriorate, you may need to update or create advance directives to reflect who you want making financial and medical decisions in your absence.
Long-term care often necessitates the need for a completely revised estate plan. Extended medical care is expensive, so to prevent your estate from running dry, you may need to restructure your assets to qualify for programs like Medicaid.
Your family has changed structure.
When your family changes – for instance, if you experience a birth, a death, a marriage, or divorce in the family – you may need to update your beneficiary designations to make sure your assets will go to where they are needed.
You haven’t updated your estate plan in a long time.
Even if your circumstances don’t change much, you should still revisit your estate plan at least every three to five years. Whether the laws have changed or you simply change your mind about where your assets will go when you are gone, reviewing and updating your plan with a Florida estate planning attorney can give you the peace of mind you need to stop worrying and start enjoying your life.
Is your will accurate in expressing your wishes? Despite significant life events that render a will ineffective or invalid, a lot of people write their wills and then forget about them.
It is important to note that if you do not have an accurate and updated will when you die, it can cause a great deal of disagreement with your loved ones when you die, causing them a great deal of stress and worry and possibly leaving them with little to cover their financial needs or, worse, nothing at all.
It is a good idea to review your will every few years to determine whether you need to update your will due to changes in your circumstances or wishes. If you have a will, make sure it still reflects your wishes after your death. You also cannot forget to include the debts and assets you have now. Your will needs to be updated if it does not.
How Often Should a Will Be Updated?
Regardless of whether your life has changed dramatically, it’s a good idea to review your will every five years to ensure that it still reflects what you intend and determine if any changes have been made to the law that might affect it. Furthermore, you should review your will if your assets or family status change.
- If you have a new child or grandchild
It should be obvious, and people usually create their first will after having their first child. When writing this will, you should focus on naming the guardian for your children and who will act as trustee for any trust the will creates for those children. Be sure you can amend the will to include future children as well.
- If you get married
Marriage would revoke an existing will in England and Wales unless you made it with the intention of revocation.
- If you are contemplating divorce
Another obvious measure, but when to do it may be a bit unexpected: Do it as soon as possible before filing for divorce. If you die without completing the divorce proceeding, your spouse will have a right to a portion of your estate if you fail to do so. You cannot often change your will after filing for divorce until the divorce is finalized.
- If your child marries
Your future ex-son-in-law and future ex-daughter-in-law may know more about you than their children do, and you may already know more about them than they do. However, your current will likely reflect situations your child would have faced as an infant, so it cannot consider a possible divorce. In order to reduce the effects of the lack of a prenuptial agreement, you may include post-nuptial requirements in your will before your children receive any distributions from your estate.
- Executors or beneficiaries named in your will die
If any of the individuals specified in your estate plan are no longer living, or if you wish for them to manage your estate or receive any residual cash, you may need to alter your will or estate plan. The provisions of your prior will may have included contingency plans or gifts to the deceased’s children, but these decisions may need to be re-evaluated.
- If your original will is lost
Wills are the result of more than a century of Anglo-American law. It is complicated to validate a copy of an original will. Make sure you replace your old will with a new original one that explicitly states it nullifies any previous wills if you cannot find your will or agreed to have your attorney retain your original will and now no longer want to deal with them. It would be best if you did this right away.
There is no reason why you shouldn’t review your will every year if you haven’t gone through any of those events. The situation does not require us to go back and re-evaluate everything from scratch. If the individual you name initially cannot fulfill the role, you can include contingencies as a backup so that it can serve as a backup if the person you name initially cannot fulfill the role.
Need help navigating these complicated matters? A Florida estate planning attorney can help ease your mind.
If you want to make sure your family is taken care of after you are no longer here, you need to keep your estate plan up to date. At Casal & Moreno, we are here to help you create the best plan possible. Get in touch with us today to set up a consultation.