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When Should I Consider an Estate Plan?
The answer to this is you should have one already. Most people put off the creation of an estate plan. Obviously it’s uncomfortable to think about passing away. Although, if you ask those same people they will likely have fairly strong thoughts about what should happen to their assets when they die!
From a lawyer’s perspective, when should you create an estate plan? I suggest whenever you have a life-changing event: getting married, having a child, getting divorced. Why? Because big events is what makes us think about ‘what ifs.’
Marriage is generally a happy time. Having a child is generally a happy event. But what about events that might not be so happy, such as a divorce or a partner break-up? If you are in the middle of a dissolution of marriage proceeding that is not the time to make changes to your will, trust or beneficiaries. You can do so before filing a petition for dissolution of marriage or after the decree is entered, but not during.
Once a dissolution is finalized the last thing you want is to potentially leave your ex-spouse the portion of your estate you fought so hard to keep. This is when you need to look forward and think about the future. Do you have children you want to name as beneficiaries? Parents? Siblings? Working with an estate planning attorney is an important “loose end” to tie up after the decree of dissolution of marriage is filed. After the divorce you followed through on dividing up the retirement accounts. Shouldn’t your heirs receive the same attention?
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