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10 Life Events That Signal It’s Time to Review Your Estate Plan - Part 2

Many think that estate planning is something you can complete one time and then check off your to-do list for good. But even the most comprehensive plans should be changed if the circumstances of your life changes.

I recommend reviewing your estate plan at least every three years. If any major life events happen before then, it’s important to have your plan reviewed as soon as possible so it can be updated if needed.

Last week, we started to explore 10 life changes that might affect your estate plan. This week, we’re covering five more life events that mean it’s time to review your plan.

06 | You Became Seriously Ill or Injured

A sudden illness or injury can leave you incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs. It's essential to review your estate plan to ensure it includes Powers of Attorney for healthcare and finances. These documents let you name someone you trust to pay your bills and manage your assets, as well as make medical decisions for you if you can’t speak for yourself.

It’s also important to include healthcare directives that describe what kind of healthcare you want if you become incapacitated. This can include dietary restrictions or preferences, religious beliefs, or limits to certain treatments or life-sustaining measures. By legally documenting your healthcare choices, your Power of Attorney will feel more comfortable in the role and will be able to make medical decisions for you that align with your wishes.

07 | You Moved from Another State

Each state has its own laws and regulations regarding estate planning, so if you moved from another state after completing your estate plan, consider having your plan reviewed by a local attorney. If your existing plan doesn’t meet the state’s requirements for how an estate plan is signed or witnessed or contains terms or processes that differ, this can cause delays when your plan needs to be used and may require a court to review its validity.

Reviewing your plan with a local attorney and making any changes to comply with the state’s laws will make sure that your estate plan can be relied upon at any moment without delay or confusion.

08 | You Got Married

Marriage brings about not only joy and celebration but also important legal updates that are easy to put off. Your estate plan needs to reflect your new marital status. Some states automatically make your spouse a co-owner of some of your property, but that doesn’t ensure an easy transfer of that property to your spouse when you die. Other states do not make any automatic updates in ownership. In Florida, marriage can override any arrangement you and your spouse have agreed to if that arrangement is not made in writing with particular legal requirements being met.

To make sure your assets will go to your new spouse if you die or become incapacitated, it’s essential to update beneficiaries and make arrangements for shared assets. You also might consider creating provisions to protect your spouse financially and emotionally in the event of your passing.

09 | You Got a Divorce

The end of a marriage is a significant life event that requires immediate attention to your estate plan. After a divorce, you’ll likely need to revoke and redo your entire estate plan. This includes creating a new Will and Trust, updating beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement accounts, and revising asset distribution to reflect your new circumstances and relationships.

If you have children from your previous marriage, you may need to revisit guardianship arrangements and provide for their financial needs accordingly.

10 | The Law Changed

Tax laws are subject to change, and revisions to estate tax exemptions can have a substantial impact on your estate plan. If there are significant changes in federal or state estate tax laws, consider reviewing your plan with an estate planning attorney to minimize tax burdens and protect your wealth for your loved ones.

Even if you weren’t affected by federal or state estate taxes in the past, changes in federal estate tax law are scheduled for 2026, so now is the time to review whether this change will affect your family’s estate tax filing status. Estate taxes can cost your family tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, but these tax liabilities are optional and can be avoided with proper estate planning.

By Your Side Through All of Life’s Changes

Your estate plan can protect your family and finances, not just today but also in the future. Estate planning may not be a one-time task: it should adapt and evolve alongside the changes in your life.

Our mission is to be available to you through all of life's changes, to help you keep your estate plan up-to-date and effective no matter what life brings your way. Our model is designed to encourage you to reach out to us with questions any time you think a life change may affect your plan.

If you’re ready to create an estate plan, or want your existing plan reviewed, give me a call. We can work together to create documents that ensure your family’s well-being for years to come.

This article is a service of Rayboun Winegardner, PLLC, a Personal Family Lawyer® Firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

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