What to Think About When You're Ready to Update Your Estate Plan

iQuanti: Life evolves and changes, and your estate plan should, too. Marriages, births, deaths, moves and even job changes can all be reasons to revisit your current plan. When you decide to update your estate plan, here are a few things to consider.

Your beneficiaries

A beneficiary is a person or organization you've named to receive assets from your estate after you die. You may want to add or remove beneficiaries as your life circumstances change. This includes any changes in marital status, the birth or adoption of children, and the death of a spouse or child. You might already have beneficiaries listed for whole life insurance or universal life insurance policies, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and retirement savings accounts. Remember that you can typically have one or more beneficiaries for each asset or account. 

Your letter of intent

A letter intent can convey any information that your loved ones may need after you pass such as a list of your assets, instructions on how your personal items should be treated (or who should receive them), and instructions for your funeral arrangements. You may need to update your letter of intent if you've changed your mind about funeral plans or distribution of personal items. 

Your will

A will is a legal document that details your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets after you die. It can also designate a guardian for your minor children (or other dependents and pets), as well as any directions for their care. You can review your will periodically to make sure that it still reflects your wishes. If you've had a major life change, such as getting married or having children, it may be time to make changes.

Your trusts

If you have created trusts as part of your estate plan, review them to make sure they still reflect your current wishes. If you don't already have a trust but are considering one, be sure to consult with a legal professional to ensure that it is the right decision for you.

Your powers of attorney

Powers of attorney are outlined in a legal document that gives someone else the authority to act on your behalf in financial and legal matters if you are no longer able to due to illness or injury. You can designate one person to handle everything or choose different people to handle different situations. Consider reviewing your powers of attorney to make sure that the person or people you have named as your agent are still up to the task. 

Your living will

A living will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding medical treatment if you become incapacitated and are unable to communicate those wishes. A living will is often paired with a healthcare power of attorney; together these documents are called an advance healthcare directive. It's a good idea to review these to make sure they still reflect your wishes.

Source: iQuanti