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Revisiting estate plans

As Michigan residents know, structuring an estate plan is not a static event. For many, it is necessary to revisit the plan as life events happen. Modifying an estate plan to meet one's needs over time is a valuable tool and one that may be used to provide security for the family.

There are times when estate planning may require modification. An example is changes in marital status, whether from the perspective of marriage, divorce or remarriage.

Without a will, a spouse may only receive half of the estate with the remainder going to other family members. Dying intestate, particularly when one is unmarried but shares a home and their life with another, leaves the other individual vulnerable to loss. In some states, divorce may invalidate the entire will or that portion of it that speaks to one's spouse. It is necessary to review the will to replace items that are no longer appropriate. Further, if a spouse is one's trustee or beneficiary, it might be necessary to change that also. Life insurance policies and retirement accounts may require attention.

Conversely, remarriage may provide a new set of responsibilities. Providing for a new family and spouse may require that the estate plan be reviewed and, if necessary, modified.

Becoming a parent, whether for the first time or not, may require that provisions be made for children. Setting up a trust for this purpose may be beneficial. In addition, retirement, moving to another state or the death of a spouse all require revisiting one's estate plan.

Consulting an attorney to review an estate plan at each juncture may be helpful. An attorney may assist in structuring a viable estate plan and lend insight into adjustments that might be considered when life events intervene.

Source: Kiplinger , "Good Reasons to Change Your Will", December 21, 2014

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