Each time the New Year rolls around, it’s hard not to think of our goals and plans for the future. The New Year is also a great time to take stock of existing plans, such as your estate plan.

Very few people need to review their plans with an attorney on an annual basis, but there are some signs that a review is due:

  • Decade: Each time you begin a new decade is a great opportunity to make sure that your wishes have not changed. This is particularly true in terms of medical directives as many people change their minds on end-of-life treatment choices as they get older.
  • Divorce: If you have recently divorced, many documents in your estate plan will need to be revised. Divorce of death of a spouse will automatically invalidate some documents drafted during the marriage.
  • Death: The death of a family member can affect your estate plan in the same way as divorce. In addition, the death of a family member can result in an inheritance – outright or in trust – that requires additional counsel for appropriate management.
  • Diagnosis: If you have recently been diagnosed with a serious illness or disease, you will definitely want to review who you have named to make healthcare decisions for you. You will also likely want to review your choices in terms of whether you prefer hospice care or the most aggressive treatment possible (or something in between).
  • Daughter/Son: The birth or adoption of a child is a joyous event. It also necessitates the naming of guardians in case of emergency, and developing a plan to provide for the child(ren) should something happen to both parents.

The New Year is also a great time to confirm that the proper beneficiaries have been named on your life insurance policies, IRAs as well as any Transfer on Death account designations.