Many people put off thinking about their estate plans longer than they should. There are many difficult decisions to make, and no one wants to consider their own mortality. However, even when you have taken the plunge and worked with an estate planning attorney to create the legal documents that will determine how your assets will be distributed after your death, your work may not be done. With every major life change, your will may need to be modified to account for new circumstances. With our continual estate administration services, you can be sure your estate plan will be up-to-date and relevant when the time comes.
Changes That Require Modification of Your Will or Trust
Many of our clients come to us to write an estate plan when they have retired and have a good idea of the assets they will have to pass along when they die or are incapacitated. But life does not stand still. A lot can happen between retirement and the end of your life, and many of these events will require a change to your will or trust.
Some of the major events that may require a modification to your estate plan include the following:
- Divorce. The primary beneficiary of your original estate plan is likely your spouse. If your marriage ends in divorce, your ex-spouse will automatically no longer inherit under North Carolina law. However, you would be wise to officially remove him or her from the will or trust and name a replacement beneficiary.
- Remarriage. If you marry after having established a will, your spouse will automatically receive an “elective share” of your estate upon your death even if you failed to add him or her to your will. However, a remarriage is a good reason to revisit your plan and make necessary changes.
- Purchase of property. If you have placed your property in a living trust, you should know that any new property purchased in your name will become part of your probate estate unless you modify your living trust to include the property.
- Death of a beneficiary. When a beneficiary named in your will passes away, you should take measures to remove him from your will and name a new beneficiary for those assets. Otherwise, assets will likely pass to the beneficiary’s heirs, which may not be your desire.
- Death of the executor. If the person you have selected to represent you in the execution of your will predeceases you, you will have to name a new executor and document that in your will.
- Change in wishes regarding children. As children grow up and move out, your wishes regarding what they should inherit may change. One child may need more support than another, or you may decide that an irresponsible or dysfunctional adult child should not inherit anything from your estate. These wishes must be documented in your will.
- Relocation to another state. Inheritance laws differ from state to state. While the probate process in North Carolina is fairly quick and easy, it can be a nightmare in other states. If you move to a state with a difficult probate process, you may want to establish a living trust in that state where it wasn’t necessary in North Carolina. Mr. Pender can help you find a law firm in that state to help you.
- Changes in the law. Regular consultations with Mr. Pender will keep you apprised of any changes in inheritance laws that could affect your estate plan.
There are other life events that could cause you to change your mind about how you want your assets to be distributed. It is best to think of your estate plan as a dynamic document that must change as your situation changes. George Pender will be here for every one of those changes and will advise you on the steps you should take.
Administration of Your Estate Plan After Your Death
Just as he will help you with ongoing changes to your plan while you are alive, George will be there to enact your plan upon your death. Your named executor will meet with George to go over your plan, and George will guide him or her through the necessary steps for the implementation of your wishes. If the executor desires his further assistance, George will oversee the administration of the will or trust according to your wishes. This includes tasks such as gathering assets, appraising property, paying debts, and distributing property.
Call George Pender at Teague Campbell Today
If you have an estate plan in place that you created with Teague Campbell, now is a good time to call George and review your plan. A discussion of the changes you have experienced since writing the first plan may lead to a modification or codicil to your existing will, but you won’t know until you call. Take that next step and call us today!