Monday, February 20, 2017 was one of the best days of my life. My wife gave birth to our second child, a beautiful son we named Dimitri Frederick. Although his weight was a mere 7 lbs., 10 oz. at the time of his birth, the change his emergence brings to our lives is massive.
Because I am an estate planning attorney, I was also aware of the fact that the change in my family means I need to update my estate plan. It’s very important to review your estate plan after you undergo major life changes.
Types of Changes Requiring Review
Welcoming a new child or grandchild is cause to get out your estate planning documents and review them. Parents are wise to include provisions in their wills to name a guardian of the person to look after their children should they pass away. Provisions may also be made through a will to name a guardian of the estate, Pennsylvania Uniform Transfers to Minors Act custodian, or trustee to manage financial assets for minor beneficiaries.
Grandparents may not have to change their will to provide for a newly-born grandchild, but it is still a good idea to review your will to make sure it is drafted appropriately for your new situation. Reviewing your will after a life change like this may also prompt you to re-consider your distribution system or proportions.
The death of a spouse or child is another reason to review your estate plan. Although many married couples draft “mirror image” wills that contain the same distribution provisions, this is not always the case. Spouses are often agents for each other under powers of attorney and so it is important to review these documents after a death as well. Similarly, when a child passes away it is important to review your documents to ensure that the distribution provisions are still in tune with your wishes. Since children are often named as agents for their parents on powers of attorney, these documents need to be reviewed too at this juncture.
Divorce and marriage of close family members are also reasons to review your documents. You may not need to change your documents because of this but it is still a good trigger to review them to be sure.
Review Documents Every Five Years
Even if you and your family do not experience any major life changes after drafting your documents, I suggest you review them every five years. Every few years, the law regarding powers of attorney tends to change and although older documents are usually still valid and “grandfathered” in, there may be good reasons to update.
You may not realize until you review the documents how different your life was when they were originally written versus where you are today. Family members can reconcile or grow apart over time and it is often difficult to recall all of the changes that have occurred in the recent past. Therefore, it is a good idea to periodically review your estate plan regardless of a recognized need due to major life changes every five years or so.
Free Review at Law Offices of Lutz & Petty
If you would like to have your documents reviewed by an attorney, we would be happy to meet with you for a free initial consultation, regardless of where the documents were drafted. If you are interested in scheduling a consultation with us, please call us at (570) 218-4888 or use the “schedule a consultation” feature at the top right corner of our website to contact us. We’d love to hear from you!