Wills and estate plans exist to direct the division of someone’s assets after they die.
While planning ahead is great, it is also good practice to update your will or estate plan every few years or whenever you experience a significant life event. Here are a few examples of life events that might necessitate a change to your plans.
When your family changes in size
If you have children, adopt children or get married after creating an estate plan, revisit and update your estate plan to include your new heirs by name. Name them as direct beneficiaries to life insurance and retirement plans. Add them as beneficiaries to any accounts that are payable on death. Similarly, if one of your named heirs passes away, update your plan to remove them.
When you get divorced
Spouses are often named as executors as well as beneficiaries in wills and other estate planning documents. Family members of spouses are occasionally designated as guardians in the event of your death. If you no longer wish these people to inherit from you or gain custody of your children after your death, update your estate plan after divorce to name new beneficiaries and guardians.
When your minor children become adults
Parents often designate a specific amount of money for each child to pay for college, or another significant life event such as a wedding, before the remainder of the estate divides equally among them. Once your children become adults and these life events are behind them, reevaluate your estate plan to divide your assets appropriately.
The days following the death of a family member are often confusing and chaotic. An up-to-date estate plan makes life a little easier for those you leave behind.