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When life events arise, it’s best to update your estate plan

The twins have arrived – a boy and a girl. You and your spouse are overjoyed even though you had not expected to become parents again once you turned 40. After all, you already have two kids in middle school. Still, this major life event remains wonderful news.

The key phrase, though, is “major life event.” And this brings to mind important financial matters pertaining to your family. Whenever a major life event surfaces, it’s time to update your will and estate plan. Get moving. Ideally, you already would have begun the planning in anticipation of the changes.

Births, bankruptcy and good fortune

There are a number of life events that would require a person to change his or her will and estate plan. The list can vary, but here are some of the basic ones:

  • Birth or adoption of a child; birth of a grandchild: If you want to make sure each of your children is provided for through a will or trust, make the updates.
  • Marriage: Perhaps this is a second marriage for you. If so, you will want to make sure that your children from your first marriage are provided for. In addition, an organized and detailed estate plan may prevent bickering within a blended family.
  • A home purchase: Any major acquisition really would require you to make changes.
  • Starting a business
  • Bankruptcy
  • Divorce: You go into a marriage thinking it will last until one of you dies, but when one leaves via divorce, that’s a different story. You may want to remove your former spouse from the will.
  • Death of a spouse: Sadly, this may happen, and sometimes the surviving spouse must learn in a hurry about estate plans.
  • Poor health: A terminal illness will likely bring a crisis to your family. Please make sure your estate is in order before you die.
  • Good fortune: Such as securing a significant inheritance or winning the lottery.
  • A change in guardians, person representatives or trustees.

Review retirement plan beneficiaries as well

Don’t neglect to update beneficiaries of your retirement accounts and life insurance policies. It’s a good idea to review the beneficiary list each year. Remember, beneficiary designations on Traditional and Roth IRAs, 401(k) and 403(b) plans, and life insurance policies override instructions in your will.

If you have a will and trust plan already in place and life events surface, please make an appointment with your attorney. The changes are yours to make, and the result may give you peace of mind, and provide assurances to your heirs.


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