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Three reasons to update your estate plan

Estate planning is one of those things that very few people like to think about. Facing your own mortality is emotionally draining enough, but the complexities of it and desire to make sure that you have done the right thing can be simply overwhelming.

Most people who have drawn up an estate plan get peace of mind from simply having it finished. Sometimes, they have too much peace. Things change, and your estate plan has to as well. Here are three good reasons why you might want to revisit your estate plan, no matter how simple or complicated it is.

Family changes

There are many important reasons to have an estate plan in place, even if it is just a simple will. It’s not just about your earthly possessions, it’s about making sure that your children are taken care of and don’t have a terrible legal hassle when they should be grieving your passing.

As your children grow, however, your estate plan has to change with them. Have you children recently become 18 years old, and legal adults? Have you had more children or grandchildren since your plan was drawn up?

You may have a trust prepared to be sure that your children are taken care of. Do you even remember who is in charge of that trust? Do you still want them in charge? All of these potential changes need to be reflected in your estate plan.

Financial changes

If you have a new house, a new business, or a new retirement account you may want to include a mention of these in your estate. Generally, it is best to keep your will and trust definitions so broad that they include your entire estate so that such casual updating is not necessary. But there are special circumstances.

For example, if you want your home to stay in the family, rising values and property taxes might make that more difficult. A trust fund just for the homestead might be in order. Or if your business has taken off and you want a solid succession plan, you may need to spell that out in your estate.

Tax laws

Just about every estate plan has been affected in one way or another by the new tax law, passed in December. The changes may not be large and it may not require a complete revisit to your estate to take advantage of them. But it is worth a solid review to make sure.

Good estate planning is never a static, do it once and get it over with thing. As your life changes, your estate plan needs to change. Advice from a skilled probate and trust administrator to at least review your estate every few years is very important. This is especially true if you can name significant changes in your life, your money, and the law.

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