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Is your estate plan outdated?

There is no doubt that estate planning benefits people at all stages of their lives. However, it is also clear that the concerns of people in their 30s are often different from the priorities of people in their 70s.

What frequently happens is that a person (or a couple) makes an estate plan. And it sits. And sits. In fact, it sits for so long that it becomes outdated and inappropriate. If you have an estate plan, it could very well need a light or heavy update for these reasons.

You have remarried

Remarriage is a big reason to update your estate plan, especially if there are assets you wish to pass on to people other than your new spouse — or even your old spouse. For instance, the retirement plan you have had for 50 years may list your first spouse as the beneficiary. You might be okay with leaving that alone, but many people prefer to change the beneficiary.

At the very least, you should update your wills and trusts. If you want your new spouse to make health care or financial decisions on your behalf, you can also designate power of attorney.

More than five years have passed

A lot can change in only one year, but in five years, it is virtually guaranteed that at least one small part of your estate plan is out of date. And, unfortunately, small changes can have large consequences. For example, state and federal tax laws change; what was favorable when you drew up the estate plan may be harsh now.

Other things that could have changed and that have an effect on your estate plan may include:

  • One or both of your parents went into long-term care.
  • You inherited something.
  • You had a new child (or grandchild).
  • You purchased a significant piece of jewelry.
  • You moved.
  • Your views on medical treatments changed.
  • Someone named in your will died or remarried.

As you can see, it does not necessarily take much to render your estate plan obsolete. An attorney can review your plan, or if you lack one, help draw one up for you.

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