Hoskins Life & Legacy Planning - Long Island / NYC

5 Life Events That Should Prompt an Updated Estate Plan

Working with an estate planner provides the chance to create a comprehensive plan that addresses your needs at that point in time. It may be the case that your plan continues to serve your needs for years to come, but it’s far more likely that shifting laws, family dynamics, and your personal goals for your estate may shift. Talking to an estate planning lawyer ensure that your plan aligns with your new needs.


Starting a New Job or Career

Starting a new job is an exciting time for you, and it’s easy to overlook your retirement account beneficiary forms in the flurry of new paperwork you fill out as you start. Whether or not you’re bringing over accounts from a previous role, now is a good time to make sure you set up primary and secondary beneficiary designations for your retirement accounts and any company-offered life insurance policies.

Note: Retirement accounts and most life insurance policies pass outside of probate, so naming your intended heirs for these assets in your will is not sufficient. Review beneficiary designations yearly.


Buying a House

A house is likely the biggest investment you’ll make. It’s not just a place for you to live, but it’s a place to raise your family and an asset that appreciates over time. You may need to adjust your estate plan to verify that it is distributed to your chosen loved ones after you pass. Some estate planning strategies such as a transfer-on-death deed allow your spouse to remain in the house and take over ownership without going through probate. You may also need to adjust your life insurance policy coverage so that your family has liquid assets to continue paying the mortgage should something happen to you.


Marriage or Divorce

Two of the biggest life events that lead to estate plan revisions are marriage and divorce. When you marry someone, you should consider a united estate plan that addresses concerns such as:

  • Healthcare documents that explain your wishes for future care
  • Power of attorney documents naming your spouse or other trusted person as your decisionmaker should you become incapacitated
  • Asset distribution for children from previous marriages, where applicable
  • Beneficiary designation updates on life insurance policies and retirement accounts

Note: One common mistake is to forget to update these documents after a divorce. If your spouse is still listed on powers of attorney or beneficiary forms, they are legally entitled to serve in that role or receive those assets. Meet with your lawyer for a full review of your plan.


Death/Health Changes in a Family Member or Appointed Person

If you have someone named as an executor, trustee, power of attorney agent, or beneficiary and they pass away, you need to update all associated documents to name someone new. Even if your documented person is still alive, they may be unable or willing to serve in this role due to a range of issues. For example, if your power of attorney agent has been diagnosed with dementia, you may wish to revisit your plan.


Birth or Adoption of New Family Members

Adding new family members is always exciting, but it calls for a review of your asset distribution plan. You may also need to name a guardian for your minor child in your will to ensure that your chosen person is able to step into this role quickly should something happen to you and any other parent. As with buying a house, you may also want to re-evaluate your existing life insurance coverage.

An estate planning lawyer is a resource and advocate for you during your life. Reach out to make updates to your plan when any of these big life changes happen for you.