J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Is it important that I adjust my estate plan as necessary?

It is always a wise decision for Florida residents of any age and financial situation to plan for the future with strategies as to how their assets will be distributed when they have passed on. An estate pan is a solid idea for everyone. However, there is frequently confusion as to when this might need to be revised. Adjustments are not a sign of indecision, but a tactical maneuver to make certain that everything goes where the testator wants it to go. This can avoid family disputes and problems when the time comes.

The key point is that the estate plan should address what the person wants in the moment. If life changes occur, it is smart to change the estate plan as well. One example is if there is a divorce. In some cases, the former spouse will have his or her part of the estate reduced after the marriage has ended. This is also a method to protect any new heirs that might enter the picture. When remarrying, there could be various circumstances such as new children or children from previous relationships. Blended families add a layer of intrigue to an estate plan and this must be handled immediately with a new document.

Adopting children from a new relationship or for any other reason alters the template of what is needed in an estate plan. There could also be the desire to appoint a legal guardian in the event of incapacitation. When there is an illness or injury suffered by a family member, their care could be a greater concern than it was when the estate plan was formulated. This requires changes to make certain that the person will be cared for. Taxes are an issue at any age. Since these laws are often changed, adapting commensurately and proactively by changing the estate plan is useful. Finally, an estate might grow or reduce in value. That must be accounted for as the circumstances evolve.

Estate planning is an integral part of any person's life. Simply doing it once is rarely sufficient because life has a way of intervening in even the best-laid plans. Whether it is a simple estate or advanced estate planning, an attorney experienced in these issues can help to make the decisions and adapt by making changes as the need arises.

Source: Forbes, "6 Reasons To Revise Your Estate Plan As Soon As Possible," Mark Enghari, Jan. 2, 2017

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