Many people believe that all they need to do is create a will and their estate planning obligations are met until that estate plan is needed. The truth of the matter is that an estate plan should be crafted by any adult with children or any assets, but also that the estate plan is a baseline that may need to be adjusted over time. While most people in Michigan know the importance of having an estate plan to begin with, those same people may be unaware of when or why to alter that plan years down the road.

Relationship changes are a primary reason to change an estate plan. When a person marries, the spouse may need to be added as the prime beneficiary of assets. On the flip side, a divorce is certainly a reason to revisit and alter an estate plan. If a person is still listed as beneficiary of assets, funds and life insurance policies, it will not matter that the couple divorced if that person is still included in a will.

There are other family changes that can impact an estate plan. One is the birth of a child. If that child is not added to a will or a trust, that child will essentially get nothing despite being in the family. Just as a birth changes a family, so does a death. If a family member dies and that family member is listed as a beneficiary or a guardian of children, this issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Every family is different and the needs of each family are certainly different also. There may be instances when a Michigan family can create an estate plan and never need to take a second look at it; however, that is not typical. Establishing an estate plan and revisiting the plan every few years can be the best way to ensure all wishes are met and assets are handled just as the creators of the plan wished.  

Source:, “Keeping your estate plan up-to-date“, Dan Carcione, Jan. 15, 2016

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