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Reviewing wills, trusts and other estate planning documents

Many Massachusetts residents already have an estate plan. They might be under the impression that their wills, trusts and other estate planning documents will remain effective over time. However, there are several situations in which those documents will need to be reviewed and possibly be changed or updated.

For single or divorced Massachusetts residents, getting married does not automatically mean that their estate plans will provide for their spouses. A surviving spouse does have certain rights to the decedent's property, but that does not mean that changes are not needed. For example, if one or both parties have children from a prior relationship, documents need to be updated or changed in order to ensure they are still provided for after the marriage.

On the other hand, if a party gets divorced, his or her estate plan will most likely require either updates or changes. This should be done as soon as possible after the divorce is final. Most people plan to remove their ex-spouses from their estate plans, but some do not do so in time. If an ex-spouse is still listed in a will, a trust or on a beneficiary designation, he or she will inherit the property regardless of a benefactor's new intent.

Any number of major life events could prompt a need for people to change their wills and any other estate planning documents. It is not enough to have them drafted, execute them and then hide them away in a safe place. They need to be reviewed in order to ensure that they are still in compliance with current law and continue to fulfill an individual's wishes.

Source: Forbes, "8 Reasons to Revise Your Estate Plan Today", Mark Eghrari, Jan. 28, 2016

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