The only thing worse than not having a Florida estate plan is having a plan that’s no longer current. For this reason, it’s recommended that you re-evaluate an existing plan every few years, or more frequently if you’re an aging adult. An even better way to ensure your plan is consistent with your life circumstances, however, is to re-evaluate it after a significant life change or external events, such as a new tax law.
Remember, estate planning has many benefits and you most certainly don’t have to be rich to enjoy them. In fact, estate planning involves much more than just divvying up assets to family members after you pass away. Although wills and trusts are common features, estate planning also includes:
- Power of attorney documents
- Guardianship designations for minor children
- Instructions for special needs family members who rely on government benefits
- Directions relating to business ownership or equity stakes
- Advance health care directives or living wills
- Letters of intent
Significant life events require various aspects of a plan to be re-evaluated, and the closer to the event the better. For example, beneficiaries often pass away prior to the drafter of a will or trust. In some instances, the beneficiary may even be the drafter’s spouse. Not only would will or trust documents need to be re-evaluated, but so would any other estate document that includes the deceased spouse. Conversely, a marriage or birth of a child in the family would require estate revisions to include the new family members, if desired, as well as provide for potential contingencies, like divorce.
Remember that changes to state and federal laws can impact you as well. For example, a new tax law, like the SECURE Act of 2019, further demands a re-evaluation, especially if a 401k or IRA is part of your estate. Other significant reasons to consider re-evaluating an estate plan can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A devastating health diagnosis
- Catastrophic injury
- A large increase or decrease in the estate value
- Moving to a state with different tax laws
- Children or grandchildren who reach age 18
- Dramatic market changes
Finally, you can re-evaluate an estate plan simply because you changed your mind since the last time it was updated. Goals and investment strategies may change, or perhaps a close relationship evolved for better or worse. Maybe you want to designate a new trustee or personal representative to your estate plan.
Whatever you decide, keep in mind that a good estate plan should always reflect the wishes of the person making it. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. If you or someone you know would like more information about re-evaluating an estate plan, do not wait to contact our law practice. We look forward to discussing your planning needs with you now, or in the future.