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Review wills and estate planning documents regularly

Many Massachusetts residents have prepared estate plans to dispose of their property after death and also to make arrangements for the possibility of becoming incapacitated. As time goes by, however, their lives and family dynamics could change drastically. If wills and other estate planning documents are not reviewed on a regular basis -- or when a major life event occurs -- the intentions reflected in the documents may no longer fit the circumstances appropriately.

After the birth of a child or grandchild, the death of a loved one or a divorce is a good time to review an estate plan. If none of these events takes place, one source recommends reviewing the documents about every two years. Reviewing them does not mean that they need to be changed, but it is a good idea to be sure that they still reflect the maker's wishes. One of the biggest benefits of estate planning is that changes can be made as necessary, depending on the situation.

If a Massachusetts resident does need to make changes to his or her estate plan, it is imperative that the changes be made across the entire plan. For instance, changing a will is not enough to remove a beneficiary if that person is also designated as the beneficiary of a retirement plan or life insurance policy. The beneficiary designation must be changed because that form overrides a will.

One of the primary reasons for having an estate plan is to make matters easier after death or during incapacitation. Keeping wills, trusts and other estate-planning documents up to date helps prevent friends and loved ones from having to spend unnecessary time and money in court. Everyone can rest assured that arrangements have been made that accurately reflect the wishes of their loved one.

Source: hometownlife.com, "Review estate plan every two years", Rick Bloom, Oct. 29, 2015

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