Life changes and with it, our plans. Marriage, divorce, home buying and selling, births, adoptions, deaths and health issues may bring about life changes that one cannot anticipate. That’s why it’s smart to review your estate plan about every five years, or following any significant life event.
As well, tax laws change from time to time, triggering reevaluation of your estate plan. Your estate plan is comprised of various legal forms and legally valid documents, including a will, power of attorney, a living will, funeral arrangements and other financial documents outlining how you wish your assets to be distributed upon your death.
If you have an estate plan in place, congratulations! However, the decisions you and your attorney recorded years ago can be affected over time. For example, a divorced individual may no longer wish to leave property to a former spouse. In Missouri, a will benefiting a spouse will not be enforceable if you divorce. (Note: Missouri courts recognize wills executed in other states if drafted according to law.)
The Missouri Bar Association recommends reviewing your estate plan if:
- Your family changes through marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of children, or death or disability of a member of your immediate family
- The administrator or executor of your will or estate plan dies
- Your family, property, money, or other assets change in value or nature
- You move to another state
What About a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
Most states provide a surviving spouse with a certain share of your estate. If this legal requirement does not align with your estate planning needs, ask your estate planning attorney about creating a valid pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement. Such an agreement may prove especially beneficial if you are entering into a second marriage, but have grown children from your first marriage. Although you may desire for your children to inherit your assets, you likely also want your new spouse to enjoy a comfortable life. Proper planning is vital to ensure your loved ones benefit from your estate. If you are a business owner too, a prenuptial agreement can make a world of difference in your financial health.
Over the span of one’s lifetime, net worth may increase. You will want to incorporate additional estate tax planning into your overall estate plan, in accordance with the most current tax laws. Perhaps you want to appoint a new administrator, grant a health care power of attorney to an adult child, or dole out funds to beneficiaries via a trust, rather than an outright grant.
So when is the best time to review your estate plan? The best answer is “from time to time”. In Missouri, Quinn Estate & Elder Law can assist with these issues and more.