Like most things in life, estate plans (i.e., the plans that you make for how your personal and financial affairs should be handled in the event you become disabled or die) can change from time-to-time. Significant life events - such as getting married or having children - can have an impact on the people who are involved in implementing your plan (your fiduciaries) as well as on the people who are given help as a result of your plan (your beneficiaries).
Gregory Port has written a great article over at eldercarematters.com listing some of the events that should trigger a re-evaluation of your estate plan. They include:
- Marriage, because getting married often changes your planning priorities.
- Divorce, since getting divorced can also change your planing priorities.
- Taxes, since acquiring substantial amounts of wealth may create opportunities for new financial strategies.
- Retirement, since the way you handle your finances, is probably going to change substantially at this point.
- Birth, since you are adding new beneficiaries into your fold.
- Death, which may result in the loss of a fiduciary or beneficiary.
To these, I would add the following:
- Special Needs. If someone in your family becomes a special needs individual due to a disease or accident, it may be necessary to make substantial changes in your planning to make sure such a person is taken care of.
- Empty Nest. Once your children have grown and left home and established themselves in the world, you may want to think about how your estate is set up to care for them in the future.
- Windfall. If you get a sizeable sum of money, you will probably want to take some time to plan how it might be used or distributed on your disability or death
As I have mentioned several times before, one issue you always want to think about is long-term care planning. Large sums of money can very quickly be consumed paying for long-term care, should you need it at some point in the future, and it helps to have a plan in place well in advance to make sure that there is a way to address those needs, should they arrive.
If you have questions about whether the time has come to develop an Estate plan, reach out to an estate planning attorney in your area. In most situations, an initial consultation is free.