If you already have an estate plan in place you are way ahead of the curve. Having a proper estate plan means you care enough about your estate and your loved ones to ensure they are handled appropriately upon your death. Having an estate plan is only one step in the process however ensuring these documents are relevant to your current needs requires periodic review from time to time. And with that thought, here are five of the most common life-changing events that require just such a review to ensure your estate plan is up to date.

Any time your finances or family situation changes may also require a change to your estate plan. One of the most obvious changes is getting married, especially if it is a second marriage involving significant separate property. If one or both spouses bring major assets into the relationship, you may want to address how separate as well as marital property is handled going forward. Clearly defining such issues will assist blended families in knowing how each of you wanted your assets handled should the unexpected occur.

Another life-time event includes purchasing or refinancing a home. Many living trusts include the trust holder’s home and other property and a refinance of a property can trigger the lender to take the home out of a trust to put the new mortgage in place, and then forget to put the home back in the trust. When purchasing property, many people may not remember to put the title of the property in the name of the trust, which is required for maximum benefit of the trust.

An estate planning attorney can assist you in ensuring all property titles are transferred into a trust correctly. We will continue this topic next week since it is important to not only develop an estate plan but also review it from time to time to ensure your strategy is still relevant and your estate planning goals are current to your needs. For this reason, your estate planning attorney is a partner in both the initial setup of your estate plan, but throughout its lifetime as well.

Source: Forbes, “5 life events that require an estate planning review,” Michael Chamberlain, Aug. 13, 2012

Our law firm handles a wide variety of estate planning issues, including probate litigation, elder care law and wills and trust administration. Please visit our Macomb County wills and trusts page to learn more about our services.

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