One mistake you can easily make when making an estate plan is not keeping it up to date. Most people want to get the paperwork from their lawyer, lock it in their safe, and then never look at it again. As nice as this would be, because your life changes you might also need to make changes to your plan. Here are three thing in your estate plan that need to be updated from time to time.
- Life Insurance– This is very important for anyone who has family members who depend on them to live. It could be children, spouses, or other relatives. Family dynamics can change at any time. Marriages, divorces, have more children, kids moving out, and a long list of other changes. These kinds of life changes can affect your life insurance policy, so make sure the beneficiaries listed in your policy are still appropriate.
If you’ve changed jobs and this new job offers more or less life insurance coverage, you’ll want to factor that in as well. Also, some states have inheritance taxes so make sure the rate hasn’t changed.
- Taxes– Do a check to make sure your estate plan is set up in the most advantageous way for your beneficiaries. You’ve worked hard to build up this estate, so make sure it goes to who you want. When estates are set up improperly or not kept up to date, your beneficiaries can end up losing a lot of your estate to taxes.
Transferring ownership of certain assets to a spouse or a trust can help keep the money from being taxed.
- Relationships– Finally, look at who you’ve named as a beneficiary, power of attorney, trustee, or other roles. Has your relationship with these people changed? Do you still want them to have the responsibility or benefits you’ve designated for them? If you feel like these people are unfit for whatever role you’ve given them, take some time and find a good replacement.
This doesn’t mean you should write people out of your will, but if you name your old college buddy as a trustee and haven’t talked to them in five years, you might need to find a trustee you have a more current relationship with.
If you need advice regarding updating or drafting your estate plan, call Baysinger, Henson, Reimer & Cresswell.