When You Should Update Your Estate Plan

It’s tempting to think your work is done after creating an estate plan – you catalogued your assets, made decisions about beneficiaries and executors – and now you can consider that task finished forever. However, once some time has passed, you may find that your life has changed. If you have recently experienced a significant life event, it could be time to reevaluate your estate planning documents.

Do I Need a New Estate Plan?

As time passes, it is inevitable that your situation will change. For that reason, a good rule of thumb is to review your estate plan every three to five years, in addition to after major life changes such as inheriting property, having children, buying real estate, or starting your own business. If you have recently experienced any of the following changes, an estate planning lawyer can help you draft new documents.

Having Children: Most people create their first estate plan following the birth of a child. When a child is born, new parents should review their beneficiary designations and make sure to appoint a Guardian for the child to ensure that he or she is cared for in the event of the parents’ death. Many parents also choose to create trusts for their children to simplify the probate process.

Change in Marital Status: New York law states that your spouse is entitled to a minimum portion of your estate, but you will probably want them to receive more than the minimum the state requires. On the other hand, following a divorce, any provisions including your spouse will be removed from your will. Other actions such as gifts to your former spouse could still be included, however, so it is necessary to revisit your documents after a divorce.

Changes in Tax Laws: Laws are never static, and that includes estate tax laws. The federal government imposes an estate tax on large estates, and some states such as New York impose their own separate estate or inheritance tax. If your estate is highly valued, it could be beneficial to consult with a probate lawyer regarding tax laws in your state.

Residing in a New State: Estate planning laws vary by state. For example, inheritance taxes are imposed in some states and not others. If you created your Last Will and Testament while living in one state and later move to another, you should consult with an estate planning attorney in your new state to make sure that all of your documents remain in effect.

It is often said that the only constant in life is change, and with the right estate plan you can be ready to meet whatever new developments should arise. There are numerous reasons why you may want to change your estate plan throughout your lifetime, and a qualified Queens probate lawyer can help make sure your estate planning documents fit your needs every step of the way. Contact the law offices of Richard Cary Spivack to discuss your estate plan today, and make the right choices for your future.

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