With good intentions and operating on the best information we have at the time, we make important estate planning decisions about who should receive our wealth when are no longer here.
Things can and will change in our lives, and when they do, make sure you adjust your estate plans and beneficiary designations accordingly.
Most of us face the future with optimism. We believe we will experience happy events like getting married, having a baby, buying a house, getting a promotion. Our best-laid schemes may come to fruition exactly as planned, or our lives may take an unexpected detour.
Like our GPS systems, when our “life map” changes, we need to hit the reset button and take a new route. Yet many people neglect to revisit past beneficiary designations when changes come – whether they are planned for or not anticipated – to make sure their choices reflect today’s circumstances.
Changes to stay on top of
Here are some of the things you may need to consider as life unfolds and your situation changes:
- You made your parents your beneficiary when you were single, but now you’re married.
- Your Will is set up to place everything in a trust but you never established the trust.
- You planned to divide your assets evenly among all of your children but one has special needs.
- Should that child get more?
- Will the inheritance make him or her ineligible for entitlement programs?
- Is it time to set up a special needs trust.
- You and your spouse are divorced and you are remarried, but your ex-spouse is still listed as your beneficiary.
- Your spouse died and there is no contingent beneficiary.
If your Last Will and Testament is ambiguous, or if the named beneficiary isn’t around to claim his or her inheritance, the state may decide who gets what.
So hold on to your optimism about the future, take charge, and make sure your estate plans and beneficiary designations are up-to-date. That’s the best way to guarantee that your current wishes are carried out as you intended.
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