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Phone: 201-345-3018

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Even a simple estate plan could need a 'tune-up'

Many New Jersey residents complete their estate planning documents and then set them aside, comforted by the fact that they have taken the steps necessary to ensure that their wishes are followed by those they will eventually leave behind. However, even the most simple estate plan needs to be given a "tune-up" every so often. Ensuring that your estate plan still meets your needs is an important part of providing for loved ones in the future.

Assessing whether your estate plan is still in line with your wishes is a simple process, one that often takes very little time or effort. This is a step that should be taken whenever an individual goes through a significant life event such as a marriage, divorce, or the birth of a new child. In addition, if a lengthy period of time has lapsed since you last reviewed your estate plan, it may be a good idea to look over your documents and check for accuracy.

For example, when a marriage ends in divorce, most individuals will want to adjust their existing estate planning documents. Very few of us want our former spouse to be the party named to make medical decisions in the event that we become incapacitated. However, that could be the result if one fails to update their medical power of attorney documents. The same goes for transfer on death accounts such as bank accounts or other investment vehicles. The balance in such accounts go directly to the named beneficiary upon the holder's death, outside of the provisions of an updated will.

Divorce is just one example of changed circumstances that could lead to the need for an updated estate plan. Any time that one's familial circumstances have shifted, it is a wise choice to evaluate the existing documents. Even the most simple estate plan will require periodic updates, and taking these steps can prevent future difficulties down the road for many New Jersey families.

Source: Bastrop Daily Enterprise, Financial planning: Taking your estate plan in for a tune-up, Jeffrey V. Manderscheld, March 12, 2014

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