Can I Change My Estate Plan If My Circumstances Change?

Estate planning is an ongoing journey, not a one-time event. At the Law Office of Andrew Rowe, P.A., we recognize that life is full of changes and surprises. This is why we’re committed to helping our clients in Kansas adapt their estate plans to match their evolving circumstances. Let’s delve into the flexibility of estate planning and how we can assist you in ensuring your plan stays in sync with your life.

Adapting Your Estate Plan to Life’s Changes in Kansas

It’s a common misconception that once you’ve created an estate plan, it’s set in stone. Nothing could be further from the truth; just as your life changes, so should your estate plan. Major life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or a significant shift in finances can all necessitate a review and possible modification of your estate planning documents.

For instance, if you’ve recently welcomed a new member to your family, updating your estate plan to include provisions for your child’s care and inheritance is essential. Similarly, in the unfortunate event of a divorce, revising your estate plan is crucial to reflect your new marital status and ensure your assets are distributed according to your current wishes. 

The Importance of Regular Estate Plan Reviews

We often advise our clients to treat their estate plan like a living document that evolves along with their life. Reviewing your estate plan at least every three to five years or sooner is wise if you experience significant life changes. Regular reviews help catch discrepancies or outdated information, ensuring your plan accurately reflects your current situation.

During these reviews, we can revisit critical components of your estate plan, such as your will, trusts, power of attorney, and healthcare directives. This process allows us to fine-tune your plan, adjusting to your current needs and aspirations. Remember, an up-to-date estate plan is a powerful tool that brings peace of mind, knowing that your wishes will be honored no matter what life throws your way.

Updating Wills and Trusts

Updating wills and trusts is critical to maintaining an effective estate plan that accurately mirrors your current circumstances and wishes. Here’s a detailed explanation of why, when, and how to update these crucial documents:

  • Changes in Family Dynamics: Life events such as marriages, divorces, the birth or adoption of children, or the death of a family member can significantly alter your estate planning needs. For example, a new marriage might mean you want to include your spouse as a beneficiary, while a divorce could mean removing a former spouse from your will or trust. Similarly, the addition of a child or grandchild might prompt you to create or adjust provisions for their care and inheritance.
  • Financial Changes: Your estate plan should reflect your current financial situation. Significant changes, like acquiring substantial assets (real estate, stocks, business interests), disposing of major assets, or receiving a large inheritance, can alter the distribution of your estate. These changes might necessitate adjustments in your will or trust to ensure your assets are distributed according to your current wishes and to optimize tax implications.
  • Relocation: Moving to a different state or country can have a substantial impact on your estate plan due to varying estate and tax laws. Some states have different rules regarding probate, trusts, and estate taxes, which could affect the effectiveness of your existing estate plan. It’s essential to review and potentially update your documents to comply with the laws of your new residence.
  • Changes in Relationships: Over time, your relationships with individuals named in your will or trust—such as executors, trustees, or beneficiaries—might change. If your trust in these individuals has altered, or if they are no longer able to fulfill their roles due to health, relocation, or other reasons, updating these designations is crucial.
  • Legal and Tax Law Changes: Laws governing estates, trusts, and taxes can change over time. These changes can impact the way your assets are taxed and distributed. Keeping your estate plan up to date with current laws ensures that it remains efficient, legal, and aligned with your intentions.

How to Update Wills and Trusts:

  • Review Regularly: It’s advisable to review your estate plan every three to five years or after any significant life event or change in circumstances.
  • Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney: An experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance on the necessary updates and ensure that your amendments comply with current laws.
  • Amendments and Restatements: For a will, changes are typically made through a codicil, an amendment that must be executed with the same formalities as the original will. For a trust, changes can be made through an amendment or, for more significant changes, a complete restatement of the trust.
  • Communicate with Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries: Inform relevant parties about changes to your estate plan, mainly if it affects their roles or interests.

Contact a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorney in Kansas

Call us today at 316-202-0131 or online to schedule a consultation with a dedicated Estate Planning Lawyer serving clients in Kansas. Let’s ensure your estate plan evolves with you, providing peace of mind and security for the future.