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Updating an estate plan now can help prevent problems later

There aren't many people who like to work on estate planning documents. It constantly reminds them of their own mortality and can be tedious. However, failing to take the time to update an estate plan can lead to major disaster later on. If a testator doesn't update the beneficiaries to their estate after a major life event, then the possibility exists that the beneficiaries may not be the individuals the testator wants. So, here are three simple estate planning steps that can help prevent problems down the road.

One of the first steps someone can take after a major life event, such as a divorce, is to revise their will. It's important to remove any old beneficiary and replace them with a new one. The testator should also make sure to update any primary or secondary guardianship amendments that they may have in their will.

If the testator has gone through a major life change, they should also review the beneficiaries to their life insurance policies, bank accounts, annuities and investment accounts. These should be updated accordingly so that the testator's wishes are carried out. It's also important to check who the beneficiaries to their 401K plans are and update them if necessary.

Updating the testator's durable power of attorney could be important as well. For instance, if the testator has moved to another state, they may wish to consider naming another person who lives closer to them for their POA since the person originally chosen now lives a long distance away. It's also important to remember that a testator should ideally have two POAs; one for their financial matters and one for health-care matters.

Any update to someone's estate plan should include language that states that these updates revoke and replace any previous versions of the documents. However, any Florida resident who wants to update their estate plan may want to speak to an estate planning attorney in order to find out what updates might need to be made.

Source: New York Post, "How to shield your money from your ex in 3 simple steps," March 7, 2016

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