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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

Difficult Life Changes Need Plans, Too

All month long, we've been celebrating major life events: weddings, a child turning 18, and planning for retirement. These are events worth celebrating.

But we live in trying times, and we know that not all life events are so positive. Many of the major changes in our lives are difficult: divorce, injury, or death. These instances also affect your estate plan in profound ways.

Why do I need to update my plan after a divorce?

If your former spouse was listed on your estate planning documents, and you're no longer comfortable with this, you'll need to update your documents to remove them from important positions, like healthcare power of attorney or personal representative. Otherwise, they might still have authority over your medical decisions if you were injured in an accident.

There are some laws that prevent ex-spouses from inheriting directly, but it's not worth leaving up to chance. A beneficiary designation that lists your ex would create difficulties for your intended beneficiaries and cost more money for the people you love.

You also want to protect your assets from your former spouse if you have children together. If you remarry, it's time to update again, to ensure the protection of your money and the things you care about most.

Why do I need to update my plan if a loved one is injured or becomes disabled?

You need to craft a plan that won't interfere with a love one's disability benefits. If someone you love is severely injured, financial difficulty can put stress on an already devastating situation. By planning ahead, you could provide for a loved one without interrupting their other financial plans.

If you or a loved one develops a disability or receives a degenerative diagnosis, revisiting your estate plan is essential. It will help you to plan for a better and more secure financial future. Even more than that, your estate planning attorney is likely well-connected to other resources in your area: social workers, home health assistance, and other organizations that can help.

What happens to my estate plan after I've lost a loved one?

When you've lost a close loved one, especially someone who was included in your estate plan, you'll want to make sure that your plan closes these gaps and is still in line with your values.

If you've inherited assets after the loss, you'll need to update your plan to accommodate these new pieces of your financial life.

Moreover, what often happens after the loss of a loved one is that a person has seen the process of estate planning more closely, and they have more opinions about it. If you had to make a difficult medical decision for a loved one without a living will, you might be more inclined to update your healthcare documents, so that doesn't happen to you.

Or, imagine if you went through probate for a loved one's estate, and the distribution of funds caused a lot of strife within the family. You might be considering switching to a revocable living trust, which, if done right, keeps your information private. You might have seen the consequences of someone being left out of the will and want to update your own.

During a time of loss, you might also be reevaluating what's most important to you. Your estate plan is a reflection of those values. You might want to add or remove certain things from your plan.

When you become a part of the client-family at Swan Law, we offer updating your estate planning documents every three years. Life changes quickly. We know how important it is to build relationships with our clients so both in times of joyful changes, and in difficult ones, we can support them.

If you want to join our client-family, give us a call at 970-879-1572.

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