Navigating Life’s Twists & Turns: The Eight Events for When You Should Review your Estate Plan | Andalman & Flynn Law Firm
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Navigating Life’s Twists & Turns: The Eight Events for When You Should Review your Estate Plan

Sep 18, 2023 | Articles, Estate Planning

By:  Mary Ellen Flynn, Esq.

No matter how little or how many assets you have, every person should go through the estate planning process. Estate planning allows the decisions you make about your health and distribution of assets to be known and followed despite your own incapacitation or death. Estate planning also alleviates the stress, chaos, and confusion for your family and friends when they try to figure out your wishes.

However, even after completing your estate planning documents, you always want to review and reassess your estate planning documents when there are life-changing events. Estate Planning documents include Last Will and Testament, Trust documents, Power of Attorney, and Health Care Advance Directive (i.e. Living Will).    At a minimum, you should review and reassess your estate planning documents whenever these eight events occur:

1. Marriage

When getting married, it’s important to discuss each person’s financial landscape and desired distribution of assets. You should take steps with your estate planning documents to ensure that they properly reflect your wishes and needs, such as changing your power of attorney, trustee, beneficiary, etc., to include your new spouse.

2. Divorce 

Just as it’s important to include your spouse in your estate planning documents when you get married, it is essential to remove your ex-spouse when you get divorced (or future ex-spouse pending finalized divorce). They should be removed promptly from your estate planning documents if you no longer wish them to be a part of it. If you were to die before you are divorced without changing your estate planning documents, your spouse would still be entitled to the distribution of assets in your current estate plan and/or the right to make decisions regarding your health and finances.

3. Starting and Adding to Your Family 

When having or adopting a child, you will want to decide if and how much of your assets will go to your child and who will be your child’s guardian when you die. When done properly, your estate planning documents will ensure no confusion about your wishes for your child. Furthermore, as your child marries, divorces or has children of their own, you may want to make updates and changes to your estate planning documents due to your familial relationships changing.

4. Substantial Change in Assets

Substantial increases or decreases in your assets and liabilities should be considered when re-evaluating your estate planning documents. Events such as investments, starting a business, career changes and selling or purchasing of major assets should trigger you to consider reviewing your decisions regarding your distribution of assets in your estate planning documents.

5. Death or Incapacitation of Listed Individuals in Your Estate Planning Documents  

Be sure to review your estate planning documents when someone mentioned in your estate planning documents dies or becomes incapacitated, such as your spouse, guardians for your minor children, dependents, trustees, and other beneficiaries. These deaths or incapacitation could impact the distribution of your assets or who is to make decisions on your behalf regarding your health and finances.

6. Illness

If you’re diagnosed with an illness or disability, you may want to review the people you have chosen to handle decisions regarding your health and finances. Illnesses often serve as a wake-up call to ensure that your estate planning documents accurately reflect your current wishes.

7. Relocation   

Different states have different laws regarding estate planning. When moving to a new location, it’s crucial to ensure your estate planning documents are drafted correctly within the laws of your new location. Therefore, when you move, reviewing and possibly revising your estate planning documents to comply with any new legal requirements is important.

8. Passage of Time 

The passage of time alone and changes in the law are also reasons why you should review and update your estate planning documents. At a minimum, you should revisit and review your estate planning documents every three to five years and whenever one of the above life-changing events occur.

If you are in need of assistance with obtaining estate planning support, please contact me at 301-563-6685 to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.

About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Founded in 1998 in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Andalman & Flynn has forged a distinguished reputation for legal excellence. The Firm practices family lawestate planning, and probate throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia, and represents individuals seeking disability benefits throughout the country. The Firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone and is there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. The Firm has provided legal analysis on national and local television and radio, and its attorneys often testify before legislative bodies and are routinely invited to contribute to prominent legal publications. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit the website at or call 301.563.6685.