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Is it time to revisit my estate plan?

Updated: Nov 29, 2023


Estate planning is a crucial aspect of life that requires careful consideration and planning. However, life is unpredictable, and circumstances can change, leading to the need to revisit your estate plan. In this blog post, we'll discuss some life situations that should prompt you to revisit your estate plan.


Marriage or Divorce


Marriage and divorce are significant life events that will impact your estate plan. If you get married, or enter into a new common-law relationship, you may want to update your will to include your new spouse. You should get legal advice about the implications of having a spouse when it comes to your estate plan, this is especially true when you have children from another relationship. On the other hand, if you separate or get divorced, you may want to change your estate plan to remove your ex-spouse and update your beneficiaries. The appointment of guardians for minor children in your will is another element that people often reconsider after a separation or divorce.


Birth or Adoption of a Child


The birth or adoption of a child is a wonderful and exciting time of life that adds a lot of things to your to-do list. Revisiting your estate plan should be on that list. People often seriously consider making a will for the first time after they have children. You'll want to ensure your child is provided for and looked after in the event of your untimely death. One of the most important things for you to do in a will is appoint guardians for your minor children. Even when people think they don’t have financial assets to justify making a will, having children is reason enough. If you have step-children or your spouse is a step-parent to your children, it is vital to get legal advice regarding your estate plan. The laws about estates in BC impact blended families in unique ways. Parents in those situations need to carefully consider their estate plans to ensure that their spouse and children are cared for properly.


Death of a Family Member


The death of a family member can be a difficult and emotional time. It can also be a significant change in your life and your family dynamics. Those changes might lead you to reconsider some aspects of your will. If the deceased family member was an executor or beneficiary in your will, you'll need to review and possibly update your estate plan accordingly.


Significant Change in Financial Situation


If you experience a significant change in your financial situation, you may need to revisit your estate plan. A sudden increase or decrease in your assets may require changes to your will or other estate planning documents. Additionally, changes in tax estate laws that happen over time may necessitate changes to your estate plan to minimize taxes and protect your assets.


Relocating or Acquiring Assets in a Different New Province or Country


Relocating to a new province or country can impact your estate plan. Laws regarding wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents can vary from province to province and country to country. It's essential to review your estate plan with a legal professional familiar with the laws of your new province or country. Acquiring assets in another province or country can also impact your estate plan. For example, your Power of Attorney document will work to deal with real estate in British Columbia, might it might not work for real estate in Ontario, or the United States. If you have significant assets in another country, your should get legal advice from lawyers in both countries.


Retirement


Retirement is a time of significant change in life, and it can impact your estate plan. You may want to update your estate plan to reflect your new income and expenses, and to ensure your retirement accounts and pension plans are distributed according to your wishes.


Health Issues


If you or a family member experiences health issues or changes, you may want to revisit your estate plan. If you have a will, you should review it to make sure it sets out your current wishes. If you have never made a Power of Attorney document or health care planning documents such as a Representation Agreement, now may be the time.

Life is unpredictable, and circumstances can change and some of those changes should encourage you to revisit your estate plan, even if nothing needs to be changed in the end. Significant life events such as marriage or divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, the death of a family member, a significant change in your financial situation, relocation to a new province or country, retirement, and health issues are all situations that should prompt you to revisit your estate plan. It's essential to work with a legal professional experienced in estate planning to ensure your estate plan reflects your current wishes and circumstances.


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