When you have been estate planning attorneys for as long as we have, sometimes it is easy to feel like a broken record. For example, I know for a fact we have rattled off this particular line quite a bit over the years: “Once you create an estate plan, it is easy to just file it away in a drawer and assume you and your loved ones are covered for every possible future situation.” The thing is, though, that is not always possible. It must be constantly reviewed and updated to serve every stage of your life.
Think of your estate plan like a car. You must service your car often to ensure it gets you where you need to go now and for years down the road. The same is true for estate planning. In fact, think of each stage of your life as 25,000 miles on your car. And at each of those life milestones, you should bring it to us and have it “serviced.”

The following lists all the significant 25,000-mile markers that you should use as a guideline for when to service your estate plan.

Estate Plan: When You Are Single

Even if you consider yourself “young and broke,” you need an estate plan. Furthermore, that estate plan should include a medical power of attorney and a living will. You are still young enough to believe you will live forever, but there is always the chance you could be in an accident. Therefore, it is best to designate who makes medical decisions for you. When you are single and employed, now is the time to set up a will to designate who receives your assets if something happens.
At some point, you will be in a serious relationship. Even if you are not married yet, a will can designate your significant other as your executor, power of attorney, beneficiary, etc. If this document is not in place, the state could give all these powers to your relatives — and this may not always match your wishes at that stage of your life.

Estate Plan: When You Have a Spouse

An estate plan is crucial if you are married. Just like we are not meant to live forever, we will not stay healthy forever. There will be times when your health or your spouse’s health
is declining, and you need protection to ensure wishes are being honored and carried out.
If your spouse passes away, your estate plan can step in and provide a roadmap for what needs to happen next. It eliminates a lot of the guesswork when you are busy grieving the loss of your spouse.
Your assets can change dramatically as you pass through different stages of life, making it increasingly important to ensure your estate plan covers all those changes. For example, you can inherit an unexpected windfall of money. Your business could grow dramatically from a small operation to one with several employees. You could go bankrupt. You could also buy real estate in another state.

Estate Plan: When You Have a Family

You should update your estate plan when you add a new child to the family, either biologically or through adoption. The same is true for when your child becomes a legal adult or a child/beneficiary passes away.
Estate planning is critical if your parent or another relative depends on you for care, housing, and finances. You must ask yourself if your current estate plan accounts for those matters. If it does not, it is time to have it serviced to meet the needs of this stage of life.

Estate Plan: When You Experience Other Life Changes

You could move to a different state. Laws may be different in the new state. Does your estate plan cover those law changes?
Your trustee or designated guardian for the kids could fall ill, die, or change their mind about assuming such responsibility. If any of these situations ring true, it is time to service your estate plan and name a new guardian.
There may come a stage of life when the designations we made when we were in our 20s and 30s no longer match our feelings or needs. This is a perfect example of a life change that needs to be accounted for when servicing your estate plan.

Have Your Estate Plan Reviewed Every Three Years

Your needs and those of your family are fluid. While it is great that you have an estate plan in place, have it reviewed every three years to ensure that it is current, expresses your wishes, and covers all your bases. How quickly can things change? In a word — fast. So it never hurts to take it out every few years and make sure you still feel the same about your decisions.
When I meet with a client to go over what has happened in their family, I frequently discover new things that need to be changed or updated in their estate plan. After all, this is about everyone you love and everything you own. You cannot leave any of that to chance.

Call Leigh Hilton, PLLC in Denton, and we will help you with all your estate planning needs. Proper planning of an estate, whether through a Will, Trust, or both, helps ensure your wishes are carried out during every stage of your life.

Leigh Hilton, PLLC wants to be your first call every time for any estate planning need. We look forward to serving you.

Thanks for reading!

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