Estate planning is an ongoing process. Creating an estate plan once and never revisiting it isn’t enough. In the same way that life evolves over time, so does your estate plan. Whether you’re a millennial just beginning your real estate journey or a seasoned grandparent making sure your family is taken care of in the future, it’s important to keep your estate plan updated as the years go by.
You probably have many questions:
- Do I need an estate attorney?
- How often should I update my estate plan?
- What age should I start planning my estate?
- What are the estate laws of Illinois?
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place! We have the answers to all of your burning questions about estate planning. Estate planning attorney Ben Weaver shares some common reasons why you should update your plan throughout life.
What is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan consists of multiple important legal documents such as the last will and testament, power of attorney, and living trust. Depending on the kind of assets you own, it can also include any business plans, life insurance, valuable assets, and so forth.
- The last will and testament details who receives your assets after your demise and who will execute the will.
- You can also authorize a power of attorney. This is a person who you have entrusted to take financial or healthcare decisions on your behalf when your condition doesn’t allow you to make these decisions yourself.
- A living trust is an arrangement that takes ownership of your assets while you’re alive and distributes them according to your wishes after your death. You can continue to use and spend your assets as you like as you live.
Is it Time to Update Your Estate Plan?
1. You’ve Moved
Real estate laws are not the same in every state.. State laws vary and can have a substantial impact on your estate planning depending on where you live.
The differences in state laws can range from trivial to extremely important. The number of witnesses required at signing, tax laws and exemptions, powers of attorney, and inheritance shares are all legitimized by the state. Whatever the rules are, if you’ve moved, your estate plan will need to be amended.
You will need to register your new residence. In case you take up a secondary residence, the government must know your primary residence because taxes, and medical power of attorney will have to be adjusted according to state law. A real estate lawyer like Attorney Ben Weaver can help you update your estate plan according to your needs.
2. Marriage or Divorce
Marriages and divorces can change who is in your life and these changes need to be incorporated into your estate plan. If you’ve gotten married recently, add your spouse to the estate plan so they are taken care of after you’re gone. Any ex-spouses should be removed from the plan if you do not wish for them to profit from your assets.
However, these changes are not mandated by the law. They need not be a trigger for updating your plan. You can add any significant others or partners to your estate plan so they can receive their share even if you’re not legally married or separated. Unless they’re part of the plan, they may not inherit anything according to the law.
Any children or grandchildren that you have will need to be added to the estate plan as beneficiaries of your inheritance. Anytime your family expands, your plan will need to be updated.
Stepchildren are not accounted for in the inheritance legally, which means they will need to be included in the plan. You can detail what their share will be and how the assets will be split among all the children. If you disinherit an heir, it needs to be recorded in the estate plan. Consult a lawyer to help you with the process to ensure you do not violate any laws. Additionally, you can include who the guardian will be for your children. Changes in guardianship are also required to be updated.
4. Change in Beneficiaries
As years progress, there may be a change in the beneficiaries you have listed in your estate plan. This may be due to multiple reasons including your personal preferences. You may wish to alter what charities receive your inheritance or how the money may be split among the beneficiaries you have chosen.
If any beneficiaries have passed away, they will have to be removed from the plan. The revised plan can split the money evenly between the remaining members or new beneficiaries may be added to replace the removed ones. Any beneficiaries that have special needs or require special care must have those specifications in detailed writing, explaining how the money should be distributed.
5. Other Life Changes
Monumental life events are not the only signal that it’s time to update your estate plan. A revised estate plan may be required if there is a change in your assets. Increasing assets will need to be added to the plan while assets you have disposed of will need to be removed.
Adding or removing documents to the estate plan also counts as updating it. If you are adding a power of attorney or a living trust or will, the estate plan will be updated with the latest documents, reflecting your preferences and choices. For business owners, estate plans can be updated to include the succession plan as well as a plan for the management of the business after you have passed away.
Do You Need to Update Your Estate Plan?
It is recommended that you update your estate plan every 3-5 years for efficient estate management. And it’s never too early to start! Actually the younger and sooner you start planning, the better you will be prepared for the future and your loved ones will thank you for it! By keeping up with your estate planning, you and your family will be better prepared for unexpected life events and have a plan in case anything that may happen.
While an attorney doesn’t need to be consulted when creating or revising an estate plan in Illinois, we highly recommend that you get in touch with a trusted attorney. Changes can be tricky and the legal jargon can be complex and confusing. If you’re switching properties, moving between states, etc, matters can get increasingly complicated with multiple state laws and property titles in play.
If you are looking to revise your estate plan or are ready to create one, we can help! Real estate attorney, Ben Weaver, is a certified lawyer with decades of experience in real estate transactions and estate law. With the 23 Legal experts by your side, real estate plans are sure to be an easy task to handle.
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Why Choose 23 Legal
23 Legal offers Real Estate and Estate Planning legal services to individuals, families, community associations and small business owners throughout Chicagoland. We know how intimidating “the law” can be. In fact, when most people think of law offices, they think of stuffy leather chairs, huge wooden desks and pompous lawyers who charge outrageous fees. That’s not us! We believe in 1-to-1; the same lawyer should work with you all the way through. Whether you have an estate planning issue, family trust concern, or you have a legal problem in regard to a new home, business, real estate or remodel, you need a lawyer who cares. That’s where Ben comes in! We are great listeners; more than that, we are lawyers who believe that our clients always come first.