The Life Events That Call for an Estate Plan Update

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    The Life Events That Call for an Estate Plan Update

    The Life Events That Call for an Estate Plan Update

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    Estate plans are based on laws that are extremely sensitive to major life events, such as marriages or the purchase of a new property. If you don’t update your estate plan after these life events, then you could see your assets go to someone you don’t want, get stuck in lengthy probate or bypass a beneficiary entirely.

    Here are some key life events that require an estate plan update:

    Life Events That Need an Estate Planning Update

    After the Birth of New Children or Grandchildren

    If you’ve had a child, adopted or had a new grandchild born, then it’s highly advised that you update your estate plan. Many people include their kids and grandkids in their wills or trusts, intending to leave wealth to their descendants.

    If you forget to update your will or trust documents after the new birth, then they’ll be left out entirely from the will; causing significant pain or tensions amongst the family after your death.

    After a Marriage

    When you get married, Florida intestate laws ensure that your spouse will have rights to your estate. But that doesn’t mean they’re automatically included in every area of your estate plan.

    For example, you might want to set up or update a trust. You also might want your spouse to receive certain assets or instructions.

    You’ll also likely want to list (or not list) them for roles of authority such as:

    • Power of attorney
    • Health care proxy
    • The executor of your will
    • Trustee of a trust

    After a Divorce

    After a divorce, it’s critical that you update your estate plan as soon as possible. If you don’t, your ex-spouse could still have the right to inherit your estate or have authority over your financial decisions.

    We advise you to:

    • Update your Will
    • Update your Healthcare Directives and Proxy
    • Name new beneficiaries
    • Name new Powers of Attorney
    • Consider Setting Up a Trust
    • Review the guardianship for any minor children
    • Review your prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement
    • Review Life Insurance Policies

    Read related: Essential Steps for Estate Planning After a Divorce in Florida

    You’ve Become a Step-Parent

    If you’ve recently become a step-parent it’s vital that you update your estate plan.

    Stepchildren who are not legally adopted will not automatically inherit your estate by law. It must be planned manually in your estate plan.

    You should review your estate planning documents and add your new step-child where you intend for them to receive a share of your estate.

    There are also concerns over spousal inheritance and the impact that has on step-children in blended families.

    Read related: How to Include Stepchildren in Your Estate Plan in Florida

    Deaths in the Family

    If there has been a death in your family, it’s understandably difficult to think about removing them from your estate plan. It’s a reality nobody wants to confront.

    But as Florida estate planning lawyers we highly advise it. If you leave assets to a loved one that passed away before you, then those assets could pass to their children or via intestacy laws; so they might not go in the direction you desire.

    Death may also call for a significant change in your estate-sharing intentions, with an asset now available to go to someone else. It’s worth taking the time to review the space left and to update the documents appropriately.

    Illness, Accidents or Medical Conditions

    A significant change in health can be another life event that calls for an estate planning change.

    Firstly, let’s focus on you. If you’ve got an illness, injury or medical condition that is limiting your life, or ability to manage your assets or is life-threatening then it’s time to update your estate planning.

    You may need to list a health proxy and power of attorney to make decisions on your health. You should also list advanced medical directives so your loved ones know how you want to be treated and cared for, if you’re unable to do this anymore as your condition worsens. Ideally, this should be done in advance but it’s better late than never.

    Alternatively, if a spouse or child has suffered an illness or injury, then they may benefit from an update in your estate plan. For example, a special needs trust can ensure they are still eligible for government benefits while being supported by their own wealth.

    If an accident or illness has occurred in your family, please feel free to contact our Florida estate planning lawyers to see how we can help you.

    Real Estate Purchase or Sale

    After the purchase of a property, you’ll need to decide how it’s shared after your death in your will. Alternatively, you may want your estate to sell the property and distribute the funds to beneficiaries. Either way, you don’t want to neglect the addition of this major asset.

    The same is true for a sale. Removing the mention of the property in your estate planning documents makes everyone’s life easier in the future.

    You may want to set up a living trust to, to allow the property to pass quickly to your family without the need for probate.

    After an Asset Purchase

    The purchase of valuable assets is also a good time to review your estate planning documents. For example, who would you like to receive your new car? Or your limited edition electric guitar that you’ve just bought? Or that new set of diamond jewelry?

    The same is true for new financial accounts. This should be reflected in your estate planning so that your executor has a clear understanding of what needs to be distributed after you pass away.

    Business Ownership or Sales

    If you start a business in Florida or buy an interest in an existing one then you should include this in your estate planning documents. What should happen to the company when you pass away? Would you want to sell it, or see it continue under someone else’s leadership?

    If you have recently sold the business, you should also update your estate planning documents.

    You Have a New Pet

    If you’ve acquired a new pet, it’s wise to mention it in your will and list how you’d like it to be cared for if you pass away. This isn’t a legally binding option, but it does provide clear instructions for others to follow.

    For a more legally sound and financially secure route, you can create a Pet Trust that designates funds for your pet’s use only.

    Moving to Another State

    Florida does recognize trusts and will from out of state, but you’ll need a bunch of formal tasks to solidify things. These include:

    • Updating your Florida domicile status
    • Appointing a Florida personal representative
    • Factoring in Florida homestead laws

    You can read our full guide on Estate Plan Details You Should Update After Moving to Florida here.

    Changes to Intentions

    Life doesn’t always require a major event to bring a change in estate planning intentions. If you have had a change of heart on any matters, from asset sharing to burial intentions or trust conditions, now is the time to update it. Waiting is never wise as people often forget entirely.

    Another reason can be if there has been a big falling out in the family, that has changed your perception of trust in someone.

    Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today in Pinellas County and Hillsborough County

    If you’ve gone through a life event that calls for an estate planning change, then our Florida estate planning attorneys can help.

    We welcome you to contact our Florida estate planning attorneys today for a free assessment if you have any questions or wish to get started.

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    Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced estate planning attorneys, they can help you create an estate plan that protects your rights and wishes.

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