Revising your Will or other estate documents might not be on the top of your "to do" list, but maybe it should. Here is a quick guide to 5 times when you should review your estate documents:
1. You have moved.
It may go without saying, but laws change from state to state. In a recent blog article, I discussed the importance of updating estate documents when you move. (New to Town)
2. Someone had a baby.
If someone in your family (yourself included) has had a baby, you definitely need to take a look at your estate documents. If a new grand-child has been born, you want to be sure your documents still describe exactly how you would like for your estate to be distributed. Tennessee law makes provisions for children who are born after their parents execute a Will (pretermitted children), however, there is a good chance that those provisions are not exactly in line with your wishes.
3. Someone dies.
Just as it is important to take a look at your documents when someone is born, it is important to take a look when someone passes away. Most documents have "contingent beneficiaries" of some kind, which makes provisions for what will happen if someone dies. Although, as soon as one of those beneficiaries passes away, there is no longer a contingent beneficiary and you probably need a new one.
4. Someone gets married or divorced.
It is true that there are provisions in Tennessee law to prevent an ex-spouse from obtaining all assets when one ex-spouse passes away, but that law does not apply to all estate documents.For example, you may have a trust set-up in case any minor grand-children were to inherit.Who is named as Trustee?If your child gets divorced, will his or her ex-spouse still be involved in your estate plan?The same is true in marriage.You want to be sure that the right people are involved in your estate plan.
5. There is a change in assets.
Whether you gain assets or lose assets, your plan should reflect this change. This is especially true for specific bequests. If you leave your '75 Chevy to your friend Steve, but you did not own a '75 Chevy at the time of your death, Steve will not get anything.
This list is just the beginning. We can think of many circumstances after which you should review your estate documents, but here are 5 with which you can start.