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Review estate planning documents at the beginning of the year

Many Delaware residents use the beginning of the year to reevaluate their lives and life choices. This is also a good time to review any estate planning done previously. Keeping these documents up to date can prevent issues for surviving family members when the time comes.

The majority of Delaware residents have estate plans that include a will, powers of attorney and an advance health care directive. Others might also include a trust, depending on their needs and desires. Most people execute these documents, put them in a safe place and forget about them. 

Unfortunately, people's lives rarely remain the same as the years pass. Divorces, marriages and births are just some of the changes that people routinely go through during their lives. In addition, others pass away first, minor children become adults and wealth increases or decreases. Any one of these events should trigger a review of an estate plan.

Changes outside a person's family could also affect his or her estate plan. One of the biggest of these changes could be in the tax ramifications attached to the assets included in the estate. In addition, retirement accounts and life insurance policies require beneficiary designations. As changes in life occur, the named beneficiary or beneficiaries might need to be updated.

Reviewing an estate plan yearly provides the opportunity to look back at any changes that might have occurred in the prior year. If any of these events occurred, it would be a good idea to seek the assistance of an attorney to make any necessary changes. The beauty of estate planning is that it can often be tailored to an individual's needs and wishes -- no matter how much they might change as his or her life moves forward.

Source: theglobaldispatch.com, "As the New Year Starts, Review Your Estate Plan", Feb. 7, 2017

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