Update Estate Plans As Life Situations Change
You may not be able to take your property with you when you go, but having an estate plan will make sure it goes where you want it to go after your death. Whether you are single, married, with or without children, or contemplating a second marriage, everyone should have an estate plan. While the issues confronting each person vary due to their unique situation, it is important that you realize that as your life changes, your estate plan needs to change too.
What type of life changes am I talking about?
- Change in marital status.
If your change in marital status is due to a new marriage, and if you intend to include your new spouse in your estate plan, you need to take proactive steps to do so. Your new spouse is not automatically entitled to all of your estate or any specific assets upon your death unless you specifically include such a provision in your will. If your change in marital status is due to a divorce, North Carolina law will revoke all of your will provisions in favor of your ex-spouse. It's important to update your will to designate who will inherit the assets that were previously designated for your spouse. Don't forget about also updating your beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement accounts. Few things would be as upsetting to your spouse as finding out that your ex-spouse is the beneficiary of your life insurance policy.
- Relocation from another state.
If you relocated to North Carolina and your estate planning documents are from another state, you should have a lawyer review your will to be certain that it is valid in North Carolina. Every state has its own laws regarding the legal execution of a will and a will that is valid in one state is not necessarily valid in another state.
- Birth/adoption of child/grandchild.
The birth or adoption of a child or grandchild is an important reason to update your existing will and other estate planning documents. You will likely want to be sure your new child or grandchild is included in your distribution plan.
In my next article, I will discuss special considerations when you have children or are a new parent.
- Change Beneficiary.
The beneficiaries listed in your will at your death will inherit your estate. If you have decided to change a beneficiary by either adding or removing a particular person or charity, it is important to revise your estate plan in order to add or remove the beneficiary; otherwise, the beneficiaries as stated in your will inherit your estate.
Other life changes that may require you to evaluate your estate plan include things such as the value of your assets has significantly increased or