Perhaps you're one of many Ohio residents who like to make sure personal affairs are in order. Many people thrive on structure and routine and have awesome organizational skills. Others barely know where to find their clean socks, much less all their financial information and inventory of assets that may impact their loved ones after they're gone. Some people hesitate to address the topic of estate planning, not liking the idea of discussing their own mortality. Others understand the importance of securing a solid estate plan ahead of time.
If you're in the latter group, you may be satisfied with your plan; as life unfolds and changes occur, you may want to review it, periodically. When is the last time you looked over your estate portfolio? It would be easy to overlook this, especially if you are fairly certain all your ducks were in a row when you first executed the plan. There are potential errors, however, that could lead to situations where someone not meant to inherit your estate is in line to do so.
Do you want your former spouse to inherit your estate?
If your personal life journey includes divorce, you're likely already aware of how major life changes may impact various aspects of your life, including, but not limited to, finances, emotions and business-related interests. Keeping the following in mind where estate plans are concerned may help your family members avoid awkward situations after you're gone:
- Estate plans do not get automatically updated. Unless you request a change, your current plan will stay the same and be carried out according to instructions contained therein when you die.
- You may designate one or more people as heirs, child guardians or powers of attorney when you initiate a plan, then change your mind later.
- It's up to you to remove names from your estate plan and/or add new ones as needed.
- If you fail to conduct periodic reviews of your estate plan, you may also fail to realize when changes are needed, such as if you divorce and re-marry or the person you listed as a sole beneficiary dies before you do.
- It's also crucial to make sure beneficiaries listed on individual accounts match those included in your will. Sadly, many instances have occurred where family members use account information to disinherit siblings or other family members.
- If you change jobs and your retirement plan rolls over, any beneficiaries you designated on the first plan may lose claim to assets unless you update your new plan.
- If your bank ownership changes hands, you may want to make sure your beneficiary designations still stand under new ownership.
Even if you and your former spouse maintain an amicable relationship and are able to peacefully communicate with one another when necessary, it doesn't mean you want everything you own given to that person when you die, especially if you have a new spouse! Knowing where to turn for support is often key to avoiding such problems.
An experienced probate and administration attorney knows how to carefully review a plan and can remain on-hand to assist with any updates or changes as needed as time goes on.