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Events that should trigger a review of estate plans

Nevada residents typically feel relief and satisfaction when they complete their estate plans. These important decisions and documentation, however, might not meet their needs forever. Changing circumstances and life events could make portions of an estate plan obsolete, ineffective or inconvenient.

Marriage and divorce represent two life events that call for alterations in an estate plan. When planning a marriage, the two people can discuss their current finances and decide how to distribute their assets in the event of death. Divorce naturally prompts most people to replace their ex-spouses as beneficiaries. Overlooking important updates when marital status changes could create unwanted results like leaving the distribution of an estate up to a judge. For example, the death of a husband and father without a will might require a judge to split the estate between the surviving spouse and the children. If the children are minors, then the mother would need to become the guardian of their finances and prepare financial statements for the court every year.

Having children introduces new needs and heirs. Parents of minor children should name a legal guardian for their children in case of their death. This removes the possibility of a judge appointing the guardian. They might also choose to delay the disbursement of assets until the children reach certain ages.

Other issues that could affect an estate plan include a death in the family, moving to a different state, changes in tax law or a significant change in income or assets. An attorney could evaluate a person's existing estate plan and point out areas that could need updating. A person might need to consider new strategies like a family trust or a charitable remainder trust to meet changing goals, manage taxation or plan for the payment of estate administration expenses.

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