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Don't forget to update estate plans

Miami-area residents who have finished their estate planning need to remember that it needs maintenance on occasion.

Life changes or other instances that alter a family's financial situation could require a change in the estate plan. Here are some events that could necessitate a review of the estate documents to make sure they are as up-to-date as possible:

  1. Marriage: Typically, spouses will need to update their trusts or wills to provide for their new significant other. Additionally, now is the time to specify the distribution of certain properties that will remain separate that were brought into the marriage. For those with considerable money or property, they also should discuss creating a prenuptial agreement.
  2. Buying a house or modifying a current loan through refinance: People who have living trust accounts should take title to the home in the name of the trust. At the time of a refinance, the home often is taken out of the trust and put into the owners' names. Remind the lender to put the property back in the trust. The same is true when buying a property. Since properties should be held in a trust, estate-planning attorneys can assist in that step.
  3. The birth of a child, adoption, or adding a stepchild to the family should trigger a review of estate-planning documents. Parents need to appoint guardians and provide for a child's inheritance.
  4. The end of a marriage through death or divorce is traumatic, and some might forget to review estate documents. It is more important now than ever, however, because beneficiaries likely need to be changed, as does the power of attorney provision that had been granted to that spouse.
  5. Each new account that is opened also should be accounted for in estate plans. Those include brokerage accounts, mutual funds and even savings accounts. If they are not, they will have to go through probate.

Not reviewing or revising an estate plan could make portions of the plan void.

Source: Forbes, "5 Life Events That Require An Estate Planning Review," Michael Chamberlain, Aug. 13, 2012

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