When should I update my will, estate plan and beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement accounts?

These life events are good reminders to review these important documents.

Marriage

Both husband and wife need a separate will.  Being married will naturally change your estate plan and is the first time many people create a will.

Birth of a Child

Each child is special and different. Make sure your wishes for legal guardianship is up-to-date, and that you have considered how they will be taken care of if you and/or your spouse were to die prematurely.  You may not want all of the money and assets to go to them when they turn 18 and legally become adults.  If a child has special needs you will want to provide for them in your estate plan.  Many decisions have to be made, and those decisions change as the children age.

Divorce

Divorce is never easy, but the importance of updating your will(s) to account for the new changes to your family can not be overstated.

Moved to another state

Not all states have the same legal requirements for will and estate planning.  Find a licensed attorney in your home state to make changes to your estate plan if you move from one state to another.

Trustee or guardian dies or needs to be changed

The reality is that as we age our friends and family age as well.  Many life events can happen that would make you want to update the trustee of your estate or legal guardian of minor children.  Review these periodically to make sure they still reflect your current situation.

Start or sell a business

Having a business opens up all kinds of estate planning opportunities.  Make sure your attorney understands how your business affects your estate plan.

Changing a beneficiary

Beneficiaries are required for life insurance or retirement accounts like your 401k, 403b, IRA or Roth IRA.  These beneficiaries should be reviewed periodically.  It should be noted that you can list more than one person or even a charity to receive a percentage of the proceeds of these accounts upon your death.  This can be a simple and easy way to add charity to your estate plan.  Prayerfully consider adding those charities you support on these accounts as full, partial or contingent beneficiaries. Consult your tax and legal professional advisors on how beneficiary designations should fit into your estate plan.