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Why Updating Your Estate Plan Is Absolutely Necessary


A will and estate plan that is not regularly reviewed and updated can not only become useless, but could in fact result in dangerous consequences that the testator did not intend. Below, we discuss some of the most important reasons you should update your will and estate plan:

Has Anyone Named Passed Away?

For one, a will needs to be updated if anyone listed and it has passed away since it was signed.

Dying Intestate Can Lead To Conflict

There’s also strong potential for conflict between heirs when the testator dies “intestate’ (without having a will in place). This tends to arise, in particular, where surviving family members are distant relatives. When an individual dies intestate, state law dictates who inherits what and the probate process. This too can result in months of litigation.

Changes In Tax Law

In addition, tax laws frequently change. The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as a good example of this. Under the new law, the estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions were increased. In addition, many states also have estate taxes, and tax changes can also have an impact on how assets are left to heirs. By updating your will and trust with an experienced attorney, you have the opportunity to take advantage of a number of tax benefits as these laws change and evolve.

Changing Personal Circumstances

Personal circumstances are also constantly changing and affect transfer of wealth issues when it comes to heirs. Some of these changes include the birth and/or adoption of a child, marriage, divorce, changing net worth, parents aging, developing a disability, the need to address long-term care, and a number of other factors.  What perhaps seemed reasonable 10 years ago is not necessarily the case 10 years later. In addition, contractual obligations may need to be  created, such as prenuptial and/or stockholder’s agreements. Even a change in state residency is a reason to change your estate plan because every state has its own estate planning laws.

An Estate Plan Is Goal-Driven, And The Will Is The Planning “Blueprint”

An estate plan is goal-driven, and the will is the key component of the estate planning “blueprint.” It is especially important to plan for children and changes that occur in both your and their lives; for example, designating guardians for minor or disabled children; as well as protecting inheritance from the claims of creditors; planning for a child’s own estate; and trying to minimize and mitigate any risk of children fighting with each other over your estate.

How Often Should I Revisit My Will? Contact Our Florida Wills & Probate Attorneys

Try to revisit your will at least every two to four years in order to ensure that everything is up-to-date and you are on your ideal path forward in terms of your goals. Also keep in mind the will does not stand in isolation, but is rather part of a comprehensive estate plan which typically includes a revocable trust and advanced directives, such as durable powers of attorney for health and property. Contact our Sarasota wills and probate attorneys at Suncoast Civil Law with any questions or concerns you might have.