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Once an estate plan is complete, don't forget about it

It can be tempting once an estate plan is finished to simply put the paperwork in a filing cabinet and never give it a second thought, but most estate planning experts would advise against that. Estate plans should be periodically revisited to make sure they are up-to-date with current laws and with your current wishes for how your assets are distributed. At the same time, there are some types of life events that should be accompanied by an estate plan review

One moment when it is often valuable to revisit an estate plan is when there has been a change in financial standing, whether that means a major income or a major loss, or the purchase or sale of major assets that were included in the plan.

For example, if a will leaves the family home to the oldest child as their sole form of inheritance and later that home is sold, it might be time to update the will to create an alternative inheritance for that child.

Another time when it can be helpful to take a second look at a will, trust, or other asset transfer mechanism is when one marries or divorces. Marriage has significant implications for estate planning, since a spouse can inherit even when they are not specifically provided for in the will. On the other hand, divorce does not automatically void gifts in the will to an ex-spouse and will not have an impact on power of attorney or healthcare proxies already in place.

Source: ABC 23, "When Should An Estate Plan Be Reviewed?" Keith Morris, Nov. 7, 2013. 

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