Life-changing events that will affect estate planning

Date: Apr 30, 2013

Estate planning isn't something you can do once and then never address again. How you want to divide up your assets when you die or become incapacitated may change a number of times over the course of your life, so it is vital to keep your will up to date, as well as altering your estate plan to reflect any important life events.

Here are just some of the circumstances where you may want to revisit your current estate plan.

Marriage and divorce

Both marriage and divorce revoke your will if you have a will when you marry or divorce unless your will was made in contemplation of your marriage.

While the emotions involved may differ when getting married compared to a divorce, they are both equally important events in terms of the implications for estate planning. In the case of a marriage, you will likely want to provide for your spouse should the unspeakable happen, so making sure your will reflects this should be one of the first things on your agenda as a wedded couple.

Similarly, you may want to list your spouse as your power of attorney should you become incapacitated for any reason. However, if you should later get divorced, you may want to retract these changes - particularly if it is an acrimonious split!

Becoming a parent

Preparing for your death is unlikely to be at the front of your mind when you bring a new life into the world - but nevertheless it is an important consideration once you become a parent.

Whether it's making adequate provisions for your children or deciding who will look after them if both you and your spouse become unable to do so, make sure your estate plan is fully in keeping with your new responsibilities.

It is often a difficult conversation to have, but you may want to discuss with friends and family what will happen to your children in these circumstances, especially if you are hoping a loved one will take on the responsibility of looking after your kids when you die.

Change in financial status

Many people dream of winning the lottery - and for some this may come true. However, for most people the biggest financial windfall they are likely to benefit from is an inheritance or a new job with a bigger pay cheque. Or perhaps you've always wanted to set up your own business.

Whatever the reason for your change in financial status, you should begin thinking about how it will affect your estate planning and assess whether your current plan still makes sense in light of your new-found wealth.