When Should You Review or Modify Your Estate Plan?

Your estate plan is a collection of legal documents, such as your last will and testament, trusts, advanced healthcare directives, and powers of attorney, that describe your last wishes for your end-of-life care. It’s best to work with an estate planning attorney in Orlando, like The Boutty Law Firm, to develop your estate plan and ensure all areas of your estate are accounted for. Once your plan is created, you’ll want to review and update it periodically. Below, we discuss when you should consider modifying your estate plan:

 A Few Years After Creating It

We recommend reviewing your estate plan every three to five years. Laws regarding estate planning regularly change. An Orlando estate planning attorney can help you update your plan to ensure it follows all new rules and regulations.

Change in Marital Status

Whether you’re just married or are going through a divorce, you should update your estate plan when your marital status changes. When you get married, you’ll want to add your new spouse as a beneficiary in your will and on financial accounts like IRAs, savings accounts, and 401(k)s. If you or your new spouse have children from previous relationships, you may want to include them as beneficiaries in your will and other accounts. Stepchildren aren’t considered legal heirs, so if you want them to receive a share of your estate when you pass away, you’ll need to include them in your will. You’ll also want to update your last name, if applicable. If you get divorced, you’ll want to remove your ex-spouse, stepchildren, and ex-in-laws (if applicable) from your will and other estate planning documents.

New Health Diagnosis

Comprehensive estate plans include several documents, such as advanced directives, detailing how you’d like your healthcare handled if you become incapacitated or face a terminal diagnosis. If you’re diagnosed with a specific condition such as cancer, Parkinson’s, or dementia, you’ll want to update your estate plan to include steps for your care regarding those particular conditions.


New Birth or Adoption in the Family

If you are a parent, it’s important to update your will every time you have a new child. This allows you to name a guardian for each new addition to your family and include them as a beneficiary. If you are a grandparent, consider updating your will to include your grandchildren, if desired.

 Purchasing or Selling a Large Asset

It’s important to update your estate plan after buying or selling a large asset, such as a real estate property, a luxury car, a vacation home, or a boat. If you purchased an item like this, you’ll want to include it as part of your estate and designate a beneficiary to get ownership of it after you pass away. If you sold a large asset like the ones listed above, you’ll want to account for any additional funds in your will, either by selecting a beneficiary to receive them or setting the funds aside for charitable giving. You’ll also want to update your estate plan if you start or sell a business.

Moved From Another State

Every state has its own estate planning laws. If you recently moved to Florida from another state, you’ll want to review your estate plan with an estate planning attorney in Orlando to ensure your plan remains valid in Florida. Florida Statute 732.502 specifies that wills created and deemed valid in other states are also valid in Florida, even if they don’t follow the regular guidelines of what’s considered a valid will in Florida. You’ll also want to review your other estate planning documents and update bank and account information as needed.

A Beneficiary or Your Personal Representative Passes Away

The personal representative plays a vital role in the probate process, so keeping their information updated in your estate plan is essential. If the person you chose as your personal representative passes away, you’ll want to amend your will (also called a codicil) to include a new representative. You can follow a similar process if one of your beneficiaries passes away. You’ll want to either amend the will and give that share of the estate to someone else or create an entirely new document and revoke the old one. 

Change in Economic Status

You should update your estate plan when you experience significant financial changes, such as a job promotion, job loss, retirement, winning the lottery, or inheriting funds from another estate. Assess your economic status, review what you’re leaving to beneficiaries, and decide to increase (or decrease) these amounts. You can also decide to leave a portion of your estate to charity.

How to Modify Your Estate Plan

Each estate planning document has specific parameters for updating it. For example, you can add a formal amendment or codicil to your will to update it. However, certain documents, such as advanced healthcare directives, should be replaced with entirely new documents. Your estate planning attorney in Orlando can help you determine the best steps to modify each part of your estate plan.

Estate Planning and Modification with Boutty Law Firm

Our team at the Boutty Law Firm can assist you in developing, updating, and maintaining your estate plan. Our estate planning attorneys in Orlando will help you review, update, and revoke all necessary documentation to avoid confusion about your last wishes. Call our office at 407-622-1395 or contact us online today to get started.

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