Most of us are pretty good about changing our relationship status on social media such as Facebook when significant changes take place in the relationships in our lives, but we aren’t as good about making sure our estate planning s are updated to match significant changes in our lives.
The laws which govern the distribution of your assets after your death vary significantly, depending upon the relationship you are in at the time of your death. It is important for you to update your estate planning s as your relationship status changes. In addition, changes in the law, such as the recent US Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriages, require updates to estate planning s to reflect newly established relationship rights.
Recently changes in the law aren’t the only triggers for updating your estate planning s. Have you been involved in a long term relationship and have finally taken that extra step of getting married? If so, update your s. Perhaps you’ve gotten divorced, or your spouse or one of your children has died. These life changing events often require changes in your estate planning s as well. If you have children and are remarrying an individual who also has children, you should have an attorney review your estate planning s to make sure your assets are distributed in a manner that provides for each of the people in your life that is consistent with your wishes.
Another life change some people forget to address involves the acquisition of significant wealth. The simple will and trust you had prepared when you were a young, financially struggling professional will no longer suffice if you have acquired significant assets with age. Tax and estate planning laws can have a significantly different effect upon people who have assets in excess of a certain point. This is true at both the state and federal levels. Retirement plans such as 401K plans can grow significantly over the course of a life time. Property appreciates in value. Take the time to make sure your assets have not reached the point at which they are going to be treated differently due to their size.
Have you recently acquired property which you jointly own with another individual who is not your spouse or family member? Perhaps you have started a business with a partner. Make sure your estate planning s are updated to reflect how you want your share of the proprty to be distributed. In addition to your estate planning s, you also need to have s prepared for the business which indicate how your partner/co-owner is to handle your share of the property/business after your death.
Did you know moving to a different state may require updating your estate planning s? State laws regarding the distribution of assets after your death differ from state to state, and depend in part upon the state in which you are residing, the state in which your assets are located, and the state in which your estate planning s were executed. Some states may even require the executor of your estate to be a resident of that state. States also have different laws regarding long term relationships, with some states allowing common-law marriages while others do not. Make sure your estate planning s provide for the distribution of your assets that is consistent with the laws of the state into which you have moved, and with your desires.
Every five to ten years you should have an attorney who is experienced in estate planning review the status of your relationships, assets, and business holdings to make sure they properly reflect your intentions and provide the greatest protection for your beneficiaries.
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This article should not be considered legal advice. Please consult a qualified, trusted attorney of your choice prior to making any legal arrangements or plans or before signing any s.