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Changes in marital status may require changes in estate planning

Estate planning is about preparing for the future, and the sooner that Massachusetts adults create and execute a plan, the better off they and their families may be. Once the documents are executed, many people put them in a safe place and forget about them. The only problem is that estate planning does not end when the documents are signed since one of the few constants in life is that things are going to change.

When those changes occur, an individual needs to review his or her estate plan to determine whether any adjustments need to be made. For example, a person's marital status has a significant effect on an estate plan. Upon marriage, or remarriage, it may be necessary to make changes to account for the current spouse and any children from a prior relationship.

When a divorce is finalized, the former spouse may need to be removed as a beneficiary from assets such as retirement accounts, life insurance policies and formerly joint accounts. Massachusetts law automatically disinherits a former spouse upon divorce, but it would be a good idea to remove him or her from a will, trust or powers of attorney. On the other hand, if the parties' divorce settlement requires one ex-spouse to remain a beneficiary of a particular asset, changes to an estate plan may be needed in order to make sure that happens.

Marriage, remarriage and divorce affect nearly every aspect of a person's life, including estate planning. Therefore, it is important to review an existing plan in order to be sure that it still reflects an individual's wishes. Fortunately, estate-planning documents can be replaced, amended or modified as needed during the course of one's life, so long as the changes comply with current laws.

Source: The Huffington Post, "9 Life Changes That Require An Estate Plan Review", Steve Cook, Aug. 17, 2015

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