Getting your end-of-life affairs together is a big job, but an important one. Even if you have already planned your estate with the help of a lawyer, you may need to update it sooner than you think. When should you update your estate plan? Let’s take a closer look.
What is an Estate Plan?
Estate planning is arranging your affairs for after you pass away. It includes creating a last will and testament, gathering important documents (such as tax information and property titles), naming legal guardians or beneficiaries, and more.
Developing an estate plan ensures that your final wishes are carried out upon your passing and that your assets are divided the way you desire.
When Should You Update Your Estate Plan?
Many people think that estate planning is a “one and done” event. However, your end-of-life affairs actually change with your life events. Estate planning does not look the same for a single business-owner and a married business-owner. You should update your estate plan after any of the following life changes.
Update your final documents to include your spouse as a beneficiary or to grant them control over your assets.
Likewise, you need to legally settle your affairs in accordance with a divorce. Does your ex-spouse have the ability to claim anything after your death? Do you want them to continue to be a beneficiary? Do you have children together? These factors must be considered when you update your estate plan.
3. A New Child
Establishing guardianship of a child is extremely important, especially if they are young. Update your estate plan to include your child(ren).
4. The Death of Someone Close
Should one of your beneficiaries precede you in death, you will have to reevaluate your estate plan.
5. Drastic Change in Finances
Whether you embark on a new business venture, the stock market crashes, or you suddenly find yourself with accumulated wealth, always reconsider your estate plan after a financial change.
Even if nothing major has occurred, go over your estate plan periodically to ensure your wishes have not changed.
Don’t Forget to Store Your Information
Estate planning is important, but it won’t do you much good if you don’t find a good place to store your information. You need to store your documents in two ways.
1. Store your information physically.
Of course, you need to store your will and other documents in a safe place. If you aren’t sure of a good place, contact your lawyer and ask for their recommendation.
2. Store the location of your information.
You also need to keep a record of where everything is stored. Estate planning does you little good if no one knows where to find the information after you pass.
How Can the U.S. Will Registry Help?
The U.S. Will Registry was founded in 1997 to fill an important gap. Too often people think loved ones will remember who you told them your attorney is, or where you stored your will in your home. Unfortunately that is not the case. Studies show that 67% of wills are never found when needed. Seniors often move to new facilities, re-write their will (With a new attorney) and move their paperwork. That is why it is essential to register the location of your will in an online registry. The location of your registered will or other end-of-life documents is stored in a database for later access. The U.S. Will Registry provides families and beneficiaries with a means to find lost wills and estate planning documents of those who have passed away. You can register the location of your Will or other documents for a nominal lifetime fee, making it easier for family members to handle your affairs.