Changes in families should lead to changes in estate plans

Drafting a will and creating a comprehensive estate plan are actions that all New Jersey residents should undertake, regardless of their net worth. Practically everyone will have something to pass on when they are gone, and most people want to ensure that their assets and property go to the people that they love and not to the state.

However, as families and relationships change, individuals may find that their estate plans are no longer complete. Modifications may be needed to ensure that estate planners' desires are reflected in their testamentary documents.

For example, when a person becomes a parent or has a child after completing their estate plan, they should go back and make changes to include that child in their will. In some cases a will or testamentary document that does not include a later-born child will not extend to them the bequests that other children may receive.

Similarly, when a person goes through divorce or marriage their legal status will change. They may need to modify their estate plans to remove a former spouse, add a new spouse or re-arrange the distribution of their assets to ensure that their children from a first marriage are provided for even if they have children with a subsequent spouse.

Whenever family members are added, removed through divorce, or pass away it is important that estate planners look over their wills and other estate planning documents to make sure that they are accurate and up to date. Help can be sought from estate planning attorneys to protect individuals from inadvertent oversights in their estate plans and to update them so that they cover all individuals that the planners wish to include.

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