Estate Planning Basics

Your Estate Plan is your legacy. It is what you leave behind to your loved ones. It is a direct reflection of you, your family and your values. Once you have created an estate plan, you can take comfort in knowing that your last wishes will be honored. However, to be effective, your estate plan must be updated regularly to account for changes in your life. The following are some events that estate planning attorneys generally advise may require you to update your estate plan:

1. New Family Members. Do you have a new child or grandchild? Picture of Family SmilingIn many cases, your will or trust may have to be updated to account for the new additions to your family.

2. A Death in the Family. Did you lose a loved one? Your estate plan should be updated to account for your loss. This is particularly true if the person you lost was an heir or beneficiary of your trust. Perhaps the person you lost was your successor trustee, executor, or power of attorney. If so, your estate plan should be updated. Not updating your estate plan to account for your loved one’s death could result in some unintended consequences.

3. Marriage. Have you or one your beneficiaries recently been married? A new marriage in the family can have serious implications on your estate plan. Your estate plan should be updated to include your spouse, or add new provisions to account for a child’s new spouse.

4. Divorce. Have you or one your beneficiaries been divorced? A divorce in the family can have a substantial impact on your estate plan. If you or one of your heirs has been divorces your will or trust should be reviewed immediately.

5. Heirs in Financial Trouble. You may want to revise your estate plan if one of your heirs is facing financial trouble or bankruptcy. Doing so may prevent a creditor or bankruptcy court from taking your hard-earned money.

6. Starting a Business. Owning and operating a business can be one of the most rewarding life endeavors. However, like your other assets, you must have a plan for your business should something happen to you. Whether you have a will or a trust, steps must be taken to ensure your business passes to the appropriate individuals.

7. The Purchase of New Assets. The estate plan you have was designed to account for the assets you had at the time the plan was created. In some cases, the acquisition of new assets, or conversion of old assets, may alter the type of estate plan which is best for you. You should consult your estate planning attorney if you have changed your asset portfolio.

8. Changes in Federal or State Laws. The law is permanent—until it changes. While the current estate and inheritance tax laws seem to be stable, they may change. It is best to check in with your estate planning lawyer regularly to ensure that there have not been changes to the law which could have an impact on your estate plan.

9. Purchase of a New or Second Home. You should contact your estate planning attorney every time you purchase a new home or other real property. Your attorney can ensure that the new home is properly addressed by your estate plan. If you have a revocable trust, your attorney can assist you in transferring the home to your trust. If the new property is in a different state, you may want to forego a simple will and set up a revocable trust.

10. General Rule. As a general rule, it is a good idea to review your estate plan every 2 to 3 years. Doing so will give your attorney the opportunity to review your plan. It will also give you the peace of mind in knowing that your estate plan is done properly.

Estate Planning Attorneys in Michigan

Atlas Law, PLC has experience attorneys who can help you with your estate planning needs, giving you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your final wishes will be honored. Our  Michigan Lawyers serve Detroit, Ann Arbor, including Plymouth, Livonia, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills and all of Oakland County.

About the Author: Aaron Shahan is an attorney at Atlas Law, PLC. You can find him on Google+  Aaron dedicates his practice to virtually all aspects of estate planning, elder law and probate.