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If you have taken time in the past to create an estate plan, or you’re considering doing so now, that’s good news.

Having an estate plan ensures that the wealth you’ve worked hard to create is protected. It makes sense that your assets should be distributed as you wish. After all, they belong to you.

Whether you have an estate plan in place or are getting one set up, here’s an important point to remember: There are times when estate plans can and should be changed. Here are some signs that it might be time to update yours.


A marriage can be an exciting new beginning. If you have been recently married, it’s a good time to make sure your new spouse is cared for under the terms of your estate plan.

Divorce or Death of a Spouse

Deciding what to do with your estate after divorce or death is not a pleasant process. However, it is important to keep your plans updated when it comes to the disbursement of your assets.

After a divorce, you should modify your estate plan as soon as possible to protect your property from going to someone with whom you no longer live.


Different circumstances can arise concerning children, triggering the need to change your estate plan. These can include:

  • The birth of a child
  • The death of a child
  • Your children become adults
  • A lost relationship with a child

In addition, your relationship might change with the person you chose to be the guardian of your minor children. If that happens, you should change your estate plan as soon as possible.

Changes in Your Financial Circumstances

Major changes in your financial circumstances can trigger the need to revisit your estate plan. A major loss or sudden windfall may necessitate changes to how your property would be distributed.

An example might be the sale of a company you owned. If your estate plan references how you wish to distribute the business or your shares in it, it might need to be changed to distribute the proceeds of the sale instead.

Changes in the Law

Laws regarding estates and taxes can change. If your estate plan is several years old, you might want to review it to make sure it still makes sense under current law.

There are ways you can protect money if estate taxes have gone up or down. Contact your estate planner if you’re not sure if new laws affect your distribution plan.

Moving to a Different State

Estate planning laws are not nationally uniform. Some states require that a spouse inherits a certain portion of your estate. Other states still have inheritance taxes, while others do not.

If you have moved to a new state, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, and living wills may also have different requirements.

A Change in Choices of Executors or Trustees

Executors and trustees are the people who make sure the desires of your estate plan are followed successfully. Are the people you chose to fill these positions still able to serve? Is someone else now a better choice? Has anyone moved or passed away?

If you need to make a change in the people who will serve in these important capacities, do so today.

It’s Been More Than Four Years Since You’ve Reviewed Your Plan

If you have not taken the time to review your estate plan in some time, that can be reason enough to do so. A regular review of your end-of-life plans can be helpful for you to identify any overlooked but important changes that should be made.

The Staten Island, NY, law firm of Merlino & Gonzalez can help you with will and estate planning no matter how simple or complex your estate may be. Call us today.