When should you update your estate plan?

You met with your attorney and set up your estate plan, and now you never need to worry about it again, right?  Wrong!  There are certain life events that warrant having your estate plan reviewed and updated, if necessary.  


1.  Changes in your Family.  

Families are ever evolving, and with those evolutions, there may be modifications that you want to make to your estate plan.  You should absolutely have your estate plan re-done if you get married or divorced.  It is also a good idea to update your estate plan if you have had or adopted a child or grandchild.  If a named beneficiary in your estate plan dies, you will want to update your estate plan, even if you have a contingent beneficiary named.  Finally, if you have children that have attained the age of 18, you may want to modify your estate plan to remove guardianship provisions and update the way your children will inherit (i.e. you may no longer want or need a trust in place).


2.  Changes in Assets

If your estate has recently undergone a substantial change in value – either up or down, it is a good idea to at least review your estate plan to ensure it still accomplishes what you need it to.  Changes in value could result from buying or selling real estate, inheritances, starting a business, purchasing life insurance, etc.


3.  Change in Location

If you have moved to a different state from where your estate plan was originally created, you should definitely have your estate plan updated.  Each state has its own probate and estate laws whose differences can greatly impact your estate.


4.  Changes in Probate, Estate, or Tax Laws

Recently, Massachusetts implemented the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC) which introduced significant changes to probate and estate law.  Although wills and other estate planning documents executed prior to the passing of MUPC are “grandfathered in” and are still valid, a previously executed will may no longer distribute your estate as you intend, and it is best to update your estate plan in accordance with the new laws.  A review should also be done when estate tax laws change to make sure that your estate is properly planned to minimize potential estate taxes.


5.  You are Approaching Retirement

If you are approaching retirement and/or have reached the age where you are required to start taking distributions from your you should not only meet with a financial planner, but you should also work with your estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan is still set up in a way that will accomplish your goals as far as what you want to leave behind for your heirs, while allowing you to live comfortably during your retirement.


6.  A Change in Circumstances of Your Fiduciaries

If any of the individuals you have named in a fiduciary capacity in your estate plan – personal representative, guardian, trustees, etc – have passed away, are no longer competent to serve in a fiduciary capacity, or you no longer wish an individual to fill a fiduciary role, you should update your estate plan to account for this.  Although most estate plans include contingent fiduciaries, it is always recommended to have at least two named individuals who are able to fulfill the fiduciary role named in your documents.  


7.  It’s Time for a Check-Up

If it has been 3-5 years since you last had your estate plan reviewed by your attorney, it is a good idea to make an appointment to have your estate plan reviewed.  Your attorney will know if there are any changes in the laws or your circumstances that would warrant a change to your existing estate plan, and be able to advise you accordingly.  


If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment to have your existing estate plan reviewed, please contact Attorney Catherine Taylor at Broadbent & Taylor for your free initial consultation.  (508) 438-1198 or catherine@kbctlaw.com 

Top 10 Reasons to Have a Will

10.  You control who manages your estate.


9.  You can make specific gifts to individuals and/or charities.


8.  You can establish a trust.


7.  You can choose to disinherit an individual.


6.  Allows you to minimize potential estate taxes.


5.  Simplifies the probate process, making it shorter and less expensive.


4.  Life is unpredictable.


3.  You control the distribution of your assets.


2.  Your spouse / significant other.


1. Your children.