Attorney Andrew H. Hook Discusses Life Events That Require a Review of an Estate Plan
Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) June 9, 2016 – When an individual or family has an estate plan, it is important to review the documents periodically, and to update them. It is also important to make certain that specific assets are contained within the trust. Any changes in the financial or family situation should be reflected in a revision of the estate planning documents. There are some life events that may prompt the testator to review the estate plan.
“Due to changes in circumstances, it is advisable to review the estate plan whenever there is a major life-changing event, or every five years,” said Andrew H. Hook, a prominent Virginia estate planning attorney with Hook Law Center (formerly Oast and Hook) with offices in Virginia Beach and northern Suffolk.
People usually wish to update their living trust and/or will to reveal what bequests they would like to leave their spouse. In addition, the grantor should focus on the separate property and ways in which to handle community property if the grantor resides in a community property state. If one or both spouses possess considerable assets, they may wish to consider a prenuptial agreement.
Divorce or demise of a spouse
The termination of a marriage also gives rise to the need to go over the estate planning documents. Upon a review of the documents, each spouse may wish to designate someone other than their spouse as their beneficiary, trustee or power of attorney.
Buying or refinancing a home
If the grantor owns a home, the home may be placed in a living trust. If the grantor refinances the home, which is then removed from the trust to put a mortgage in place, the home should be placed back into the trust. However, this is often overlooked. Similarly, when purchasing property, it is recommended that the buyer take title to the property in the name of the trust. Homeowners are advised to seek the advice of their estate planning attorney in transferring their properties to the trust.
In order to avoid probate and facilitate the transfer of title to the beneficiaries, the grantor should ensure that all savings accounts, brokerage accounts or mutual fund accounts are held in the trust. Consider the case of an individual who came into a large inheritance and opened a bank account in his name, and not in the name of the trust. In the event of that person’s death, those assets would have to go through probate.
If the grantor has a baby, adopts a child or has a stepchild, the grantor should revise the estate planning documents to include the designation of guardians in the will. In addition, the grantor should put any bequests for the child in the trust. A living trust may be more beneficial than a will because in a trust, the grantor can indicate the ages at which the child will have access to the inheritance.