When is a Good Time to Review Your Estate Plan?
Your work is not done after you create an estate plan. It is important to review your estate plan periodically and especially when you have significant life events. Failing to review or update your estate plan is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Serving clients in beautiful Naples and throughout Florida, leading Florida estate planning attorney James Nici has some recommendations for when you should be meeting with your lawyer, whenever the following important things may occur.
Below is a list of six recommendations from Attorney Nici:
1. Regular Reviews with Your Lawyer
In general, you should minimally review your estate plan every three years. You should go through your plan to ensure that your wishes and/or circumstances have not changed. During this review, you may find some of your thoughts about your plan may have evolved and you have different priorities or goals. Also, your lawyer should advise you whether changes in the tax law affect your situation. You do not want to miss out on tax-saving strategies because you failed to update your estate plan.
2. When Your Child or Grandchild is Born
When a child is born, parents should update documents to specifically include this new family member. You will want to ensure your property will be distributed to your children to protect and provide for them if you should die untimely. This planning needs to include your spouse too as you will want your spouse, the other parent, to have easy access to your holdings should you be incapacitated or die. A power of attorney, if not already in place, should be completed. You both will also need to update any guardianship documents or create them for a new child. Parents need to name a guardian for their children in case both parents pass away.
Additionally when a grandchild is born, although you may not be directly responsible for their upbringing and providing for them, you likely will want to include this new family member in your plan in some way. Your lawyer can advise you. For example, Attorney Nici might recommend a trust be established for education or that you name the grandchild along with other grandchildren as a beneficiary.
3. Change in Marital Status – Marriage or Divorce
A change in your marital status is a definite reason to review and update your estate plan. If you have recently gotten married, you will want to include your new spouse in your plan and visa versa. Committed couples desire to provide for their spouses and good estate planning, when first married and throughout the years, enable you to plan ahead and ensure your accumulated wealth and assets are seamlessly inherited by your spouse.
If you have gotten a divorce, you most likely want to remove your former spouse. You can rearrange your plan so that other family members inherit instead of your previous partner. Your lawyer will also help you think about removing your ex as a beneficiary on any non-probate assets such as assets held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, assets with a beneficiary designation, and assets held in the name of a trust or with a trust named as the beneficiary. If you are entering a second marriage, there may be other estate plan considerations for stepchildren and blended families.
A good review of your estate plan when marital status changes is a great way to update your plan.
4. When Someone Dies or Becomes Incapacitated Or When Someone Becomes Disabled
- If a beneficiary, executor, trustee, or guardian for a minor child dies or becomes incapacitated, you will need to update beneficiaries or reassign duties.
- If a family member becomes disabled (think of a car accident or other event that leaves a loved one permanently disabled), changing planning to provide for the future may become a priority. James Nici has helped clients address providing properly for the additional costs and challenges that the disabled are likely to face into adulthood and throughout their lifetime. He will often set up a special needs trust to address this new demand.
5. Your Financial Situation Changes
You should update your estate plan if there has been a significant change in your financial situation. For example, if you have purchased a home or other large asset, you must update your will or trust to include this property. Furthermore, any significant increase or decrease in your estate’s value could impact your estate planning strategy.
You should also review your estate plan anytime you experience a career change, such as losing a job, receiving a promotion, starting a new position, or retiring.
6. When You Move
The laws that govern estate plans vary between states. For example, states have different rules regarding the execution of estate planning documents (such as the number of witnesses). There are also differences in more substantive areas, such as the minimum share of your estate your spouse is required to inherit. Florida does not impose inheritance or estate taxes, but some states do, which can influence your estate planning strategy. Because of these differences, your documents may need to be updated when you move to a new state.
Specifically, when you move to Florida, you should work with a Florida Domicile lawyer like James Nici to establish legal residence in your new state. This is especially critical for individuals who move to Naples and want to take advantage of Florida’s tax benefits including the Homestead Act.
Call Naples Estate Planning Lawyer James Nici
Schedule a meeting with top Florida estate planning lawyer James Nici for your review. Jim Nici is an experienced Naples attorney with over 25 years of experience. He is well-versed in these issues and can help you with all aspects of estate planning.
If you have questions on other instances about whether to review your estate plan, please contact the Nici Law Firm, contact our office today at (239) 449-6150, or use our web form to set up a free consultation.