Just as life evolves, so should your estate plan. If you're in Missouri and considering a revision of your estate plan, this article will walk you through why, when, and how you should proceed.
1. Understanding the Need for Revisions
Estate planning is not a one-time event, but rather a process that needs to be updated as your life circumstances change. Whether you have new assets to consider, your family structure has changed, or tax laws have been updated, there are many reasons to revise your estate plan.
2. Timing for Estate Plan Revision
Several life events might trigger the need for an estate plan revision:
- Change in marital status: Whether you get married or divorced, your estate plan should reflect your current marital status.
- Birth or adoption of a child or grandchild: This would necessitate changes in your will or trust, and possibly the addition of a guardian.
- Acquisition or disposal of a significant asset: Large assets should be accounted for in your estate plan to ensure they are distributed according to your wishes.
- Death or incapacity of a beneficiary or executor: You'll need to replace any key person named in your estate plan who can no longer serve in their designated role.
- Change in tax laws: Changes in federal or Missouri state tax laws could impact the efficacy of your current estate plan.
- Moving to another state: If you move to or from Missouri, your estate plan should be reviewed to ensure it complies with the laws of your new state of residence.
3. How to Revise Your Estate Plan
Making changes to your estate plan is a process best undertaken with the guidance of an experienced attorney. Here's a general roadmap:
- Review your current estate plan: Understand what your estate plan currently covers and decide what changes you'd like to make.
- Amend your will or trust: If you need to make minor changes, you can add an amendment known as a codicil (for a will) or an amendment (for a trust). Major changes might require a complete rewrite.
- Update your beneficiaries: Review your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and payable-on-death accounts to ensure your listed beneficiaries are up-to-date.
- Reassess power of attorney and healthcare directives: Ensure these documents continue to reflect your wishes for who will manage your finances and make healthcare decisions in case of incapacity.
Revising your estate plan is a critical step in ensuring your plan keeps pace with your life changes and continues to fulfill its purpose. Remember, it's not enough to create an estate plan; maintaining it is equally important. Consulting with an experienced Missouri attorney can help you make sure your plan meets current laws and your changing needs.