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When Life Changes, So Must Your Estate Plan

The importance of comprehensive estate planning cannot be overstated. In addition to passing wealth on to loved ones and ensuring that your assets and personal belongings are distributed according to your wishes, an estate plan can also be used to plan and account for your own long-term care needs.

Individuals who take the time and care to do estate planning may believe that their work is done. It is important to note, however, that changes in your life, or in the lives of loved ones, may necessitate changes to existing estate planning documents.

The following are life changes that may signal changes to your estate plan:

1) Marriage or divorce, which may entail changes to beneficiary designations for retirement accounts, insurance policies and trusts as well as changes to a Last Will and Testament, a Power of Attorney or a Living Will.

2) Birth or death in family, which may impact beneficiary and inheritance decisions.

3) Significant increase or decrease in estate value, which may change the amounts that you leave to your heirs.

4) Changes to State or Federal Law, which may impact your estate plan through the imposition of higher or lower PA inheritance taxes or federal estate taxes.

5) Getting older, which may reduce the need for trusts and guardians for minor children.

Even in cases where you and your loved ones have not experienced any significant life changes, it is still a good idea to review your estate plan at least every five years. Estate planning serves as both a roadmap and insurance policy for you and your loved ones. To help ensure that a plan meets and achieves your short and long-term needs and goals, it is important to consult with an experienced elder law or estate planning attorney.

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