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Should you be thinking about updating your estate plan?

Like many people, you may have met with your attorney, developed your estate plan, then filed the documents safely away. How long ago was that?

Think about the changes that have happened in your life since then. Is it time for an estate plan update?

The impact on your estate

Many changes happen as we go through life, some in such rapid succession that they seem to go by in a blur. You may be too busy coping to give much thought to how these changes may affect your estate plan. However, if it remains outdated at the time of your death, disputes among your heirs may surface. Such disagreements sometimes become highly publicized news items if the dustup involves a prominent family. However, you can head off contentious issues by updating your estate plan.

What may happen

Although you may have accumulated a great deal of wealth, you do not have to be rich to put together an estate plan. Once you do create an estate plan, you need to revisit it when significant events happen in your life. For example, you could divorce and want to remove your spouse as a beneficiary in your will. Other changes could occur. The executor you originally named in your will has died and you wish to name someone else. You may acquire or sell a vacation property, or perhaps your oldest daughter just married and now you have a new grandchild. These are but a few reasons for revisiting your estate plan and making changes.

Reason for delay

You could delay making an appointment with your estate planning attorney because the changes you have in mind would prompt a family discussion, which could make you uncomfortable. However, when the decisions you make are in keeping with tax law changes and focus on a broader wealth strategy for your family, the discussion can be less personal and more businesslike. A good rule of thumb is to review your estate plan every five years for possible updating. Your family is sure to feel comfortable and secure knowing you have made the appropriate changes with their futures in mind.

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