Estate Planning - 5 Life Changes That Call for an Estate Plan Review

Comments · 24 Views

Forbes Magazine recently ran an article entitled, "Five Life Events That Require an Estate Planning Review."

Here are the 5 life events Forbes listed that may trigger a need to review your estate plan.

1. Getting married

2. Divorce or death of a spouse

3. Purchasing or refinancing a home

4. New accounts

5. Children changes


The basic document of every estate plan is a revocable living trust.

A revocable living trust is a very flexible document. If you have the wording just right, you won't have to do much changing, if any.

Let's take Children Changes for example:

You can say in your trust that you are going to cover all of your children, whoever they are, as of the time you pass away.

Or, if you are already past childbearing age, Estate Planning Attorney Roslyn NY and you are now looking at having grandchildren, you can declare that all of your grandchildren will be beneficiaries.

You do not have to name all of them, and you don't have to change your trust or your will every time your family grows by another child.

What about purchasing or refinancing a home -- or getting a new account?

You don't have to change your will or your trust every time you change an account or when you buy a house.

But what you do have to do is put them in the proper title.

The title of a property, for example, needs to be put in the name of your trust, if you have a trust.

And the title on an account-usually an investment account, needs to have your revocable living trust as the holder of that account.

Sometimes the beneficiary on a retirement account can be the trust.

If you get a new account, simply make sure you add it to the trust.

That does not require a lawyer.

Your lawyer should give you a packet with instructions on how to do that yourself. Just make sure you show the Certification of Trust to the person opening the account or setting up the title to your property and make sure that title gets in the name of your trust.

Marriage and Divorce

Marriage and divorce are two reasons why you might really need to have a review and to change things in your will or your trust.

This is because if it says that you are going to appoint your spouse to be your health care power of attorney to make medical decisions for you, or if they are going to be the trustee of your trust, you are going to have to change that if you get divorced.

Or if you are single when you create your trust and you get married, you may want to appoint your spouse to be that person. That is perfectly OK to do and easy enough to do without having to redo the entire trust. You simply get an amendment to your trust.

You should get a lawyer to create your amendment to change on that particular provision of your revocable living trust.

Now, there is one other thing.

It is not a life event, but it is a legal event that does require changes to the trust.

That is if the law changes.

Several years ago in Arizona, we had some changes that the legislature made to our trust code and we sent a letter out to our clients saying these are changes that we recommend you make.

And several years before that, there was the HIPAA amendments where the law required written authorization for doctors, hospitals and medical providers to talk to you about their medical condition and medical records. That is still in effect.

If your will or trust or your medical power of attorney doesn't contain specific language related to that HIPAA requirement then it is not going to be sufficient and doctors are not going to talk to your daughter, for instance, or whoever it is you have appointed to be in charge of your medical decisions. So that is something to be aware of.