You should check your estate planning documents every so often - at least every three years or if you experience a major life event. You want to make sure the plan is still good, especially with big life changes like births, marriages, divorces (your own or that of an adult child), and moving to another state. Children grow up; marriages dissolve; property gets sold; residences change - life happens! That's why we recommend that you consult us for an estate-plan check-up every few years.
What Happens If You Retire in Another State?
If you retire to another state, your will would probably be good, but powers of attorney vary from state to state. Documents from the “old” state might not work in the “new” one, and your documents would not be there for you when you need them.
How Does a Spouse or Ex-spouse Effect My Estate Plan?
Suppose you willed your property to your spouse and appointed that person to be your agent under power of attorney. You got divorced, but you never got around to changing your plan. The law would usually step in to prevent your ex-spouse from inheriting, but you might be stuck with that person still having a power of attorney for your finances and health care.
Maybe you named your ex-spouse's father as your agent. Now he can't stand you and blames you for the break-up.
How Do I Divide my Assets Equally to my Children?
Perhaps you willed your property to your two children equally – but now one child is addicted to opioids. Your will did not restrict how money should be spent. If your addicted child inherits a lot of money in one chunk, that money could vanish to drugs and your child's survival could be at risk.
Perhaps you deeded your house to one child and made a will leaving money to your other child. Then you forgot about the deed and made another will, years later. The subsequent will split everything equally. The second will would have no effect on the house, because deeds take precedence over wills as to the succession of real estate. Consequently, one child might end up receiving more inheritance than the other. That unfairness might sour the children against each other forever.
If you got divorced, sold property, moved to another state, or did your documents more than five years ago, come see us for an estate plan check-up. Please call our Winthrop office at (207) 377-6966 during business hours or message us any time.
When it comes to estate planning, once is not done.