Every year, once the parties are over, the decorations are packed away, and the presents are all opened and played with, we albeit grudgingly must act like adults once again and take a look at our fiscal health for the upcoming year. We now know, because we’ve been advised for more years than we’d like to admit, to take a peak at our insurance policies for our homes, vehicles, health, and lives, as well as our investment portfolio to determine what has worked, what is continuing to work, and what is in need of change. However, with all of this reviewing, do we remember to update our estate plan and will, too?
What changes in a year?
While you are living your life, you often do not think about each individual change a year brings. Yes, you often look back and think, "what a difference a year makes," but you do not truly evaluate those differences on an annual basis in an itemized-list sort of way. However, if you were to create such a list and evaluate the difference a year makes, you may find that your entire life has changed enough to affect all of your estate planning from the previous year. There is a plethora of seemingly small life changes that require adjustments to your will. For instance, maybe you became a grandparent, or one of your children got married. Or maybe, you purchased a new home, or you adopted a new pet. Each of these changes requires one or more adaptations to your will and estate plan. For instance, your assets may now need to be divided between not just your children, but your grandchildren. Or now you may need to include your new son-in-law to your succession planning. Maybe you need to outline who will take care of your new pet if you were to pass in this next year. While many of these changes seem big personally and inconsequential financially, they are nevertheless quite significant changes to your life and as a result, would be significant issues in your death.
Steps to Re-Evaluation
With all of these changes in your life, it is important to have a plan when re-evaluating your will and estate plan. To begin, review your will from the previous year. Determine what has changed and what has stayed the same. Maybe, because your daughter was already engaged the last time you updated your will, you already added her then fiancé and now only have to change his title. Perhaps you already knew you were about to be a grandparent at this time last year, so you included that too. Without reviewing your prior will and making a list, you may be just as blind in attempting to update your plan as you are in not updating it at all.
Second, sit down with your attorney and your list of life changes over the past year. Include everything and let your attorney advise you on whether certain things make any difference to your overall plan or not. Also, allow your attorney to make suggestions based on issues that may arise in estate planning that you wouldn’t think about without expert knowledge of the law. Take your attorney's advice and make the changes as needed. Hopefully, your will won’t be necessary in the upcoming year, but if it is, your family will appreciate that you took the time to care and think about your succession. It will make certain decisions for them a lot easier and allow them more time to grieve your passing.
If you are looking for a reputable and respected estate attorney in the Minnesota area, contact WL Brown Law Office at 612.309.9184. One of our experienced attorneys will be happy to help.