By retirement age, most adults have established an estate plan, complete with trusts and a living will, to protect their assets and provide for their families when they’re no longer around. However, financial advisors and elder law experts agree that far too many seniors fail to keep their estate plans up-to-date as changes occur in their lives.
“With as much legal authority and significance estate planning holds, many people don’t realize that they need to update their plans as time goes by,” warns Nancy Clanton, Community Relations Director at Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay in Venice, FL. “But writing up estate planning documents then forgetting about them is a good way to ensure difficulties down the road. As major life events occur, or tax laws change, you should update your estate plan to reflect those changes. Otherwise, your family could be left to hash out the complications of outdated instructions.”
So when should you update your plans, and why? We’ve gathered a list from the experts of important changes that signal to seniors the need for an estate plan revamp.
In the simplest terms, whenever your family structure changes or you experience a major life event, it’s a good idea to update your estate plan accordingly. During your retirement years, you’re likely to experience a lot of change. Experts in estate planning law, such as those at LexisNexis and Forbes, suggest several events that merit returning to your estate plan.
1. Birth of a Grandchild – Whenever a new child is brought into the family, you’ll probably want to update your will to include your new grandchild as a beneficiary, or reallocate your assets into a trust fund for the child. Sometimes, due to miscommunication between the person and their attorney, seniors assume that their inheritance will automatically be dispersed among their living heirs. However, depending on the way a will is worded, grandchildren born after the will was written may not be included. After you celebrate the arrival of those bundles of joy, be sure to revisit your will.
2. Death of a Spouse – Because most people assign their spouse as a beneficiary of their assets or a trustee of their estate, documents need to be updated if the spouse passes away. You will need to reassign someone to take your spouse’s place as your trustee or power of attorney.
3. Health Changes – Significant changes in your health or your spouse’s may require you to update your estate plan. The cost of healthcare might affect your assets, so reviewing your documents is wise. Also, depending on the severity of your or your spouse’s condition, you may change your mind about end-of-life wishes laid out in your living will, or want to adjust trust distributions according to your life expectancy.
4. Change in Assets – Any time you experience a significant change in your assets, you should review your estate plan. This could occur if you sell your home and move into a senior living community, or if you or your spouse requires long-term care.
5. Changing Beneficiaries or Trustees – You will need to revisit your estate plan if you wish to change any beneficiaries or trustees of your estate. Whether one of your trustees has passed away, you wish to include a grandchild as a trustee after they turn eighteen or a family dispute causes you to change your mind about how to distribute funds, you will need to update your documents to reflect any changes.
6. Selling a Business – You will need to update your estate plan if you owned a business and choose to sell it when you retire. Not only is this a significant change in your assets, but you may have also included the business within the terms of your will or trusts.
7. Accessing Retirement Savings – Whenever it’s time to start accessing your IRA or 401(k) savings, you should update your estate plan if you’ve included your retirement savings investments in your planning.
8. Moving to a New State – If you move to a new state to be closer to family or your climate of choice, you will need to review your estate plan, as laws differ from state to state. Most states generally honor the plans created in another state, but you will need to make sure all the terms are still valid in your new state of residence.
9. Insurance Changes – As you make changes to the terms of your insurance policies, you should make sure those changes correspond with your estate plan documents. The beneficiaries of a life insurance policy will take precedence over what’s stated in a will or trust, so it’s important to make sure your documents are not contradictory.
10. Federal or State Law Changes – Even when none of the above changes occur, it’s still a good idea to review your estate plan every few years to make sure they are in accordance with current estate and tax laws. Staying up-to-date with your estate plan can benefit you and your family in the long run, as new laws allow new tax-exemptions or other such regulations.
At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, we understand the many issues that seniors face today. Our mission is a personal one, built on experiences with our own aging parents and loved ones. When you need help navigating the changes that come along with senior living, we are here to answer your questions, point you in the right direction and offer our support at every step of the way.
“Our community offers several sources of support for seniors and their families, including expert advice from our experienced team, educational programs and events and an elegant, effortless lifestyle for those who call Tuscan Gardens home,” says Clanton. “Everything we do is to enhance the lives of seniors and their families. If we can help make your senior living journey smoother, don’t hesitate to contact us!”
At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, we’ve mastered the art of living. We’ve perfected the balance of personalized support and an uplifting lifestyle, helping our residents experience independence, joy and meaning every day.
Offering supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care services for families in Venice, Florida, Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay was founded with one simple, yet profound goal – to create a community worthy of our parents. In all we do, we are guided by the principles of family, culture and engagement, working to represent the remarkable way of life our families deserve.
Luxury, intimacy, opportunity, passion and beauty combine to create what the Italians call sprezzatura – a culture of effortless elegance. The essence of our community is made up not only of mere aesthetics, but an artfully designed lifestyle to bring out the best of what each day has to offer. From dedicated care that respects residents’ individuality and dignity to a lifestyle that nurtures their love of life, Tuscan Gardens was built to be more than just a residence, but a place to call home.