6 Events That Should Trigger an Estate Planning Update

Almost any major life event has estate planning implications, but some major changes should always cause your planning documents to be reviewed.

1. Getting Married

In Maryland, a spouse can claim an “allowance” of up to 1/3 of your probate estate, or even 1/2 if you do not have children. This makes it especially important to update the titling of assets, distribution terms of your will, and beneficiary designations of accounts and insurance policies. Many people also name their spouse their Attorney-in-Fact and/or Health Care Agent.

2. Getting Divorced

As covered here, updating your documents will not be the highest priority during such a trying time. But neglecting to review your estate plan could result in the wrong party inheriting your assets or leave you depending on someone no longer in your life to make critical healthcare decisions should you suddenly become unable to do so.

3. Having Children

Who would take care of your children should the worst happen? How will they be provided for? This and many other questions are answered in your will. You can even go so far as establishing a trust to provide funds for specific purposes such as future education. Every parent wants the best for their children, and in these instances, that means planning ahead.

4. Death

It may seem counterintuitive but losing a family member can also affect your estate plan. If the deceased was named an agent in a Power of Attorney or to receive an asset in your will, these designations should be updated when appropriate to ensure your wishes are most accurately reflected in the documents.

5. Prolonged Illness

As long as a person is mentally competent, they can amend or execute estate planning documents. This can be especially important for someone experiencing a long-term illness or disability. In such cases it is crucial to express your wishes about potential treatments to be withheld or administered and to appoint a trusted agent to make decision should you become unable to do so, while you are still able.

6. Monetary Windfall

Sudden changes in finances can quickly solve many of life’s problems, but without proper forethought, they can create several more. Sudden large gains, bequeathing over certain amounts to specific individuals, and many other monetary decisions can have major tax implications both during and after your life. Many government assistance programs also have strictly enforced income/wealth thresholds.

The main reason to review your estate planning documents is to ensure your current wishes are being accurately reflected. But it is also important to ensure you, your family, and your assets are protected as you move through life.

With any questions about the estate planning process or to have your own documents drafted, contact Abraham & Bauer today.

Planning ahead is a gift to your loved ones!