We have written several times about the need to make changes to your state plan as time goes by, but we haven’t addressed some specific issues you might need to consider as your family gets older and goes through changes. Understanding how your estate plan protects your children, your spouse, and your other family members is important, but so too is making sure that your plan is as up-to-date as you can make it. A plan that changes as your family changes is the only way to provide the best possible protections to those most important to you.
Changing Your Plan When You Add Children to Your Family
Whether you are expecting a child or are planning on adopting one, your estate plan needs to change when you add a new child to your family. Even if you already have children and have created an estate plan to protect them, you need to update your plan to reflect the new child. This includes, for example, making decisions about inheritances, trusts, guardians, and more.
Changing Your Plan as Your Children Get Older
Beyond making changes to your estate plan to protect the new children in your family, you might also need to make changes as your children get older. Take, for example, the selection of a guardian. When you make an estate plan and choose a guardian for, let’s say, an infant, that guardian will be responsible for caring for your child should you and the child’s other parent die or become incapacitated. But the guardian you select who you believed was ideal for your child when that child was an infant may not be the right person to care for your child if, for example, the child is now a teenager. Periodically reviewing your guardianship decision is essential if you want to make sure that the right person will care for your child should something happen to you.
Changing Your Plan as Your Parents Age
Beyond issues surrounding children, you might also need to consider estate planning issues that involve aging or elderly parents. Protecting yourself and your children with an estate plan is a common goal, but do you know what options you have if you want to protect your parents as they get older and begin losing some of the abilities they once had? Are there steps you can take to make sure that your parents will be protected, or that the right person will be able to make decisions on their behalf should the time for that step become necessary?
Knowing the answers to these questions is essential if you want to make sure your parents are protected, and that you have taken the steps you need to take to ensure everyone in your family is properly cared for.
Parman & Easterday