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Five Signs You Need to Update Your Estate Plan

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Estate planning is like a car in that it requires periodic maintenance and routine checkups. Much like your mechanic’s recommendation to service your car every few thousand miles, it is recommended that you review and update your estate plan about every three years to account for changes in your life and the law.

Estate planning can be complicated. Below are five signs that you need to update your estate plan. If you have questions about your estate plan, consider speaking to a Dayton estate planning attorney at the VanNoy Firm.

#1 You do not have an estate plan.

Many Ohioans neglect personal estate planning. While the laws of intestacy technically serve as a default estate plan for Ohioans without a personalized estate plan, intestacy likely will not settle your estate the way you might want to. For instance, intestacy will not take into consideration that charity you wanted to leave a gift to, or pay for your child’s college expenses, or provide for your beloved family pet. Moreover, probate is expensive and time-consuming, often taking a minimum of six months to complete.  If you are among the many Ohioans who have not made a personal estate plan, you should seriously consider consulting with an attorney who will help you create the perfect estate plan for you. Estate planning is not just for wealthy or retired people. Rather, estate planning is for every adult 18 years old and older and can be an important part of the legacy you leave. 

#2 Your marital status changed.

If you are recently married or recently divorced, you should update your estate plan. Just because your legal relationship status changed does not mean that your estate plan automatically reflects your new status. For instance, your old will may not provide anything for your new spouse because you did not know your spouse when you made your will ten years ago. By contrast, your will may have ineffective provisions if you are recently divorced. However, marital changes impact your entire estate plan, not just your will. If you have not updated your estate plan following a marriage or divorce, you should seriously consider reviewing your estate plan with an attorney to ensure that your plan accomplishes your needs and wishes.

#3 Your family dynamic changed.

Families change and grow all the time. While not all familial changes indicate that you need to update your estate plan, here are a few key situations that you should pay attention to.

  • Adding a child to your family. Does your estate plan adequately provide for your child if something happens to you?
  • Children reaching adulthood. Leaving bequests to your adult child is different than providing for a minor child.
  • Special needs spouse, child, or grandchild. Leaving bequests to special needs family members requires great care to ensure that the individual is adequately cared for without causing future harm to his or her ability to get the necessary care.
  • Loss of a loved one. If you lost a spouse, child, grandchild, or another close relative recently, you may need to update your estate plan accordingly.

If your family experienced any of these changes in the past three years, you may want to contact a local estate planning attorney to help you review and update your estate plan.

#4 You moved to a new state.

Unlike the “old days” people are much more transient today. It is not uncommon for families or individuals to move to several states over the course of their lives. Because state laws differ regarding estate planning, it is important to update your estate plan to comply with the laws of your new home state when you move. While your old will is usually still effective in your new state, there may be special estate and tax planning strategies available to you in your new state that you would not otherwise be able to take advantage of.

#5 The law changed.

Estate planning is governed by both federal and state laws, which change frequently.  Most notably, annual changes to the tax code can have a significant impact on both your estate and your beneficiaries in the event something would happen to you. Federal and state law both impose an estate tax, though exemptions and deductions are available in many cases. Additionally, gift taxes could be assessed under federal law in some circumstances. Because the tax code is complex, it is advisable to consult an estate planning attorney every few years to review your estate’s tax liability and take advantage of the available deductions and exclusions.

Questions about your estate plan?

If you have questions about your own estate plan and would like to talk to an attorney, feel free to contact the VanNoy Firm for a confidential consultation. Our estate planning attorneys would be glad to talk to you as soon as possible.



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