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Look out for your heirs by keeping your estate plan up to date

Estate planning can be a complicated undertaking, and it is an area in which many people are prone to procrastination. Furthermore, once it is done, it can be easy to never give it a second though. However, just as it is important not to delay too long in estate planning, it is also important not to simply "set it and forget it."

In order for your estate plan to function as well as possible, it is essential that you revisit it regularly and keep it up to date. Fortunately, once your estate plan has been created, any adjustments that are necessary should be less difficult as long as you keep up to date with regular maintenance and check-ups - just as you would with a car by visiting a mechanic or with your own health by visiting the doctor.

Family changes and major life events

There are a number of important life events that should always trigger a review of your estate plan. In general, these include changes to your family structure such as:

  • A marriage or divorce (your own or that of an intended heir)
  • The birth or adoption of a child
  • A death in the family

It is also a good idea to revisit your estate plan any time you undergo a substantial change in assets, such as receiving an inheritance, starting a business or purchasing real estate. Also, because estate and tax laws vary between states, it is wise to go over your estate plan if you relocate to another state.

Keep up to date with changing laws

Even without any major changes in your life, family or financial situation, it is still important to dust off your estate plan at least every few years. This is because the laws and regulations regarding estate plans, estate and gift taxes and other relevant issues can change frequently - sometimes annually - and those laws can make a dramatic difference in how your estate plan will be carried out. If the laws change and you do not update your estate plan to reflect those changes, it could wind up being costly to your loved ones in the long run.

In addition to keeping up with the latest legal changes and making sure that as many assets as possible are transferred to your heirs, reviewing and updating your estate plan on a regular basis will help make sure that it contains the most accurate and up-to-date statement of your wishes. Over time, just as your assets may fluctuate, so too may your preferences about who you want to benefit from those assets after you pass away.

For assistance creating or updating an estate plan in Illinois, contact the experienced estate planning lawyers at Brady & Jensen, LLP.

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