Creating a well thought out and comprehensive estate plan is one of the most valuable gifts you can give to your loved ones, and to yourself for that matter! A successful estate plan can do so much more than just dictate how your assets will be distributed when you are gone. It can also do things such as plan for the possibility of incapacity, protect your assets, and provide for minor children if something happens to you. For your estate plan to work as you want it to, it needs to be updated from time to time to ensure that it reflects your current needs and goals. The Lincolnshire estate planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. suggest updating your estate plan as one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2019.
What Should Happen During a Routine Review?
Throughout the course of your lifetime, you should conduct routine reviews of your estate plan every so often and make any changes that need to be made. There are no hard and fast rules about how often you should review your plan; however, most estate planning attorneys suggest a routine review every three to five years until your children have all reached the age of majority, or around age 50 if you do not have children. After that, plan a review every five to eight years. During a routine review be sure to look at changes that need to be made to:
- Assets – your asset structure may change as your income and family size increase. The more assets you acquire, the more assets need to be protected, and eventually distributed, in your estate plan.
- Beneficiaries – your primary beneficiaries will likely change as you get married and/or have children.
- Fiduciaries –you need to review your choice of fiduciaries each time you review your estate plan. You may want to appoint a new spouse to a position or remove someone who is no longer willing or able to serve.
When Do I Need to Make an Immediate Update?
Scheduled reviews are essential to keeping your plan current and functioning as intended; however, there are also some life events that should trigger a more immediate update to your estate plan, including:
- Marriage or divorce – your own marriage or divorce will likely trigger the desire to change beneficiary designations within your plan. The marriage of a child is also something that could trigger a review because your son/daughter-in-law could now stand to gain control over the inheritance you plan to leave your child.
- Birth and death of beneficiaries or fiduciaries — basically, the death of anyone who is part of your estate plan, as a beneficiary or fiduciary, is cause to review your plan. The birth of a child or grandchild should also be specifically noted in your plan to ensure your beneficiaries are correctly identified to avoid confusion which can lead to litigation.
- Children reaching adulthood – once your youngest child reaches adulthood, you no longer have to worry about protecting his/her inheritance because all your children can now inherit directly from your estate.
- Retirement – when you retire, a number of important changes will take place, starting with your overall financial picture changing. Those changes warrant a review of your plan. In addition, if you have not yet considered the addition of a Medicaid planning component to your estate plan, now is the time to do so.
- Major change in assets – your estate plan should include provisions that can handle shifting assets; however, a major increase or decrease in the value of your assets, or the acquisition or sale of a major asset (such as your home or business), should give rise to a review of your plan to see how the change impacts your overall plan.
If you have not reviewed your existing estate plan in at least three years, make a New Year’s resolution for 2019 to sit down with your estate planning attorney and update your plan. The peace of mind that comes from knowing your plan is up to date is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
Contact Lincolnshire Estate Planning Attorneys
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you need to review your estate plan for 2019, or get started on an initial plan, contact the experienced Lincolnshire estate planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.