If you own your own home, have children or run your own business, you probably already have an estate plan. Many responsible adults recognize that estate planning protects not only themselves but the people they love.
Other than failing to create an estate plan, perhaps the most common mistake people make about their last wishes involves failing to change and update their estate plan as their life changes. When people go through difficult times, they may need to change their estate plan immediately. Circumstances that demand revisitation include losing a loved one, divorce or a new baby.
If your family hasn’t gone through any dramatic upheavals, you might not have reviewed your estate plan in years. There are three very good reasons why people getting close to or just past the age of retirement review their estate plan.
Your asset inventory has probably changed
If you created your estate plan when you first got married or had a child, you’ve probably earned a lot of money and bought a lot of property since then. Integrating those new assets into your estate plan and creating a new inventory of your property and debts will make it much easier for your executor to start estate administration.
You can look at your needs for retirement and health care
Going over your financial circumstances and property to update your estate plan will give you a much better idea of where you stand financially for your retirement. You might discover that due to some market losses it might be better to keep working part-time for a few more years.
On the other hand, you might discover that there are gaps in your support that require planning now. If you don’t have enough assets or insurance already in place for long-term care, estate planning updates can be a good time to plan for Medicaid and other adult elder care needs as well.
You will want to record or reconsider your medical preferences
A thorough estate plan won’t just talk about your property when you die. It also discusses your financial and medical wishes in the event of incapacitation, like a coma.
The medical care you would have liked to receive when you were a younger adult may no longer be what’s best in your current situation. Updating your wishes regarding pain management, life support resuscitation and other medical procedures will help protect you and make it easier for your loved ones to get you the care you need and want.
It is never too late to start an estate plan, nor is it too late to make changes to one if your needs have also changed.