Estate planning isn't something that is done in one attempt, and then set aside forever. In fact, failing to revisit one's estate plan from time to time can be a critical error. This is because life brings constant changes that could affect how a person wants their affairs and property handled at the end of their life and upon their death. The following are some tips for Massachusetts residents to keep in mind if they have an estate plan.
First, a person should review their estate plan if their spouse or child passes away. While these are certainly tragic events, once that person is able to, they should make sure their affairs will be handled by someone who is still alive and that their assets are passed onto their chosen heirs who are still living.
Similarly, many people have life insurance policies or retirement plans to which they appointed a beneficiary. However, changes can occur over time. For example, a person might name their spouse as a beneficiary and later divorce. In this situation, that person may want to change the beneficiary on that plan, so that the proceeds of the plan do not go to their ex.
Also, many people create an estate plan with the intention of avoiding probate. However, to do that they need to create a revocable living trust. That being said, such a trust will only be effective if the title to the property in the trust is changed to the name of the trust. If not, their property may end up in probate, despite their wishes.
Sometimes a person may have drafted a will, but passed away when their heirs are still young adults. Unfortunately, young adults do not always handle an inheritance responsibly. For this reason, a person might want to consider a trust, as it will be managed by a trustee who will be the one responsible for distributing a person's property to the person's heirs.
As this shows, one should not merely draft a will, and consider the estate planning process done. Estate plans should be reviewed from time to time to ensure they still meet the person's wishes. As life changes, so should an estate plan. An attorney can assist a person in creating and reviewing an estate plan, so that it meets that person's goals.
Source: Ithaca.com, "Business: Key estate planning mistakes to avoid," Jennifer L. Alfieri, Nov. 8, 2017