When Should You Re-Evaluate Your Estate Plan?
Many couples create their estate planning documents shortly after their first child is born and leave them untouched for decades, until they are needed. However, during that time, life continues to change and the documents may not reflect your current wishes when they are needed later in life. For this reason, we recommend that our clients review their estate plans every 2-5 years and whenever a major life event occurs. Some of these life events that should precipitate an estate planning review include:
This could be your own marriage or that of a child. If you are remarrying and you want your spouse to be one of the beneficiaries of your estate, update your estate plan to specifically name them and the assets that should transfer to them. While Florida intestate laws guarantee that the spouse inherits a portion of the estate, they must be named in the estate planning documents to receive more than the legally mandated share as well as to ensure the distribution process goes smoothly. Moreover, you may want to update your advance directives for healthcare and finances to enable your spouse to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
If your child marries and you have doubts that the marriage will last for the long term, you can stipulate in your estate plan that your child inherits through a trust in order to protect against a failed marriage, or you can even go to the extent of requiring that a child must have a pre- or post-nuptial agreement with their spouse before they can receive a distribution from your estate.
It’s prudent to update your estate plan and advance directives as soon as you begin to contemplate a divorce. If you were to pass away or become incapacitated before the divorce proceedings are complete, your spouse would be the one to make all medical and financial decisions on your behalf, no matter the current state of your relationship. Moreover, they would be entitled to the distribution of assets detailed in the original estate plan, even if it no longer matches your wishes.
Change in Health Status
If a doctor diagnoses you with a terminal illness, it’s important to review all of your advance directives to ensure that they reflect your current desires for who should make medical and financial decisions on your behalf. Additionally, if you anticipate needing to move to a nursing home, we recommend meeting with an estate planning attorney to learn about your options for protecting your assets for your children while funding your nursing care.
Start a Business
Divvying up a family business can be difficult and complex after the original owner(s) pass away. To simplify the process for your heirs, as well as ensure that they follow your vision for the company, work with your estate planning attorney to lay out clear succession plans and divide up ownership shares among your heirs.
Taking the time and effort to develop and update a thorough estate plan now will pay dividends later when you and your heirs need it. Contact the expert estate planning attorneys at Huth, Pratt, and Milhauser to start the process of updating your estate planning documents today.
Huth, Pratt and Milhauser
Huth, Pratt and Milhauser is a boutique law firm that offers a wide range of legal services in the specialty areas of wills, trusts, estates, probate, guardianship, and related matters. The range of legal services that Huth, Pratt & Milhauser provides in these specialty areas includes planning, administration and litigation. The experience and skills of our attorneys and staff, coupled with our knowledge of applicable law, enable us to provide outstanding representation to our clients.
Although we are located in South Florida, we proudly serve clients throughout the country and around the world from our Boca Raton offices. We strive to provide superior and focused counsel in a timely manner and at a competitive price.
Huth, Pratt and Milhauser
2500 North Military Trail, Suite 460
Boca Raton, Florida 33431