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When was the last time you took a look at your estate plan?

If you have to think too hard to answer this question, it's probably time for a review. It's a good idea to take out your estate plan once in a while to make sure it still reflects your current goals and wishes.

Outside of a general review, your estate-planning documents need to keep up with the changes in your life. Certain events should automatically trigger you to take a look at your plan.

Having a child

Having a child is an exciting time in your life. You have a lot of preparations to make, including reviewing your estate plan. Who will take care of your child if you are not around to do so? How much of your estate do you want your child to inherit?

In addition to these questions, you may want to stipulate how and when your child should receive his or her inheritance. Minor children cannot inherit property, so you will need to make some sort of arrangements.

Getting married

If this is your first marriage, then you may want to make sure that you take care of your spouse if you pass away first. He or she may need immediate access to funds after your death. You may want to title your property in such a way that your spouse automatically becomes the owner without needing to go through probate. You may need to make sure that your spouse receives the proceeds of your retirement plan and life insurance policy as well.

If this is your second marriage and/or you have children from a prior relationship, you may want to make sure you provide for your spouse, but also make sure your children receive the inheritance you want them to have. If the two of you execute a prenuptial agreement, you need to make sure it does not conflict with your estate plan. 

Getting divorced

It never hurts to change your estate plan after a divorce. Unless you agree in your divorce settlement to provide for an ex-spouse in some way, you may want to make sure that he or she does not inadvertently inherit some of your property that you would prefer to go to someone else now.

Other events may require a change, too

These may not be the only events in your life that require you to make changes to your estate plan. If you move into or out of New Jersey, sell certain assets or someone you identify in your plan passes away first, you ought to review your plan.

If you do need changes made, you would greatly benefit from enlisting the help of an estate-planning attorney to help ensure that the changes you make will not somehow unnecessarily complicate the administration of your estate when the time comes.

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