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Dust off your estate plan and give it a once over periodically

If you already have an estate plan, you are well ahead of many people here in Nevada. You got past your discomfort of contemplating your own death and arranged to take care of your family as you do in life. You also took steps to arrange for trusted loved ones to take care of you if there comes a time when you can no longer care for yourself.

After you made the arrangements you feel will best suit the needs of your loved ones, you signed the documents memorializing your wishes, took care of any other loose ends and put the documents away. If you haven't looked at those documents since that time, you could have a problem. Your life may have changed since you created your estate plan, and it's possible at least parts of it no longer apply. Your documents could actually do more harm than good by the time your family needs them.

It's a simple fix

You can easily fix any potential problems surviving family members could have with your estate plan by reviewing it at least every three years. Other events such as the following should also trigger a review:

  • The birth or adoption of a child or grandchild
  • A marriage or divorce of a family member
  • Your marriage or divorce
  • The sale of your home or another major asset
  • The purchase of a home or another major asset
  • An executor, trustee or agent no longer makes sense

While you review estate-planning documents such as a will, trust or power of attorney, you also need to review your beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other accounts as well. Those documents override your will in most cases, so simply modifying or replacing a will or trust is probably not enough to make the change you want where beneficiary designations are in place.

What do you do if you need to make changes?

As you can see, any major event in your life could require changes to your estate plan. Fortunately, you may change, modify or replace your estate planning documents during your lifetime as long as you can do so legally. In most cases, this means that you retain the mental capacity required by law to understand your choices and know what you are signing.

A word of caution: Before modifying, replacing or otherwise changing your estate plan, make sure that you do so in compliance with current laws. Any changes you make to your plan need to be done correctly in order to avoid any potentially conflicting documents.

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