A bit of good news amongst the tragedies of Amy Winehouse’s drug and alcohol induced life and death: Amy’s estate plan will do what she wanted it to do. After her divorce, she sought legal counsel and changed her will to benefit her parents and her brother to the tune of approximately $16.8 million dollars. If she hadn’t updated her will, her jailed ex-husband would have received the inheritance.
Updating after Divorce
In most divorce situations, it is mandatory to update your estate plan immediately upon legal separation. After all, most people wouldn’t want their ex-spouse to receive their assets, control their finances upon incapacity, or make health care decisions on their behalf.
Updating after Other Life Changes
Think of the changes we all go through as life unfolds. There’s marriages, new relationships, new businesses, new houses, moves to other states, new children, and changes in life outlook and goals. All of these normal situations are cause for a review of your estate plan, and an update if suggested by your estate planning attorney.
Updating Every Three to Five Years
Every estate plan should be reviewed for updates every three to five years. There are three types of changes each and every estate plan faces. They are 1) Changes in your life and finances, 2) Changes in the law, and 3) Changes in your estate planning attorney’s experience.
A Note about Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
If you have a loved one who is challenged by alcoholism and/or drug addiction, your gift or inheritance may make the problem worse or even kill him or her. However, you don’t have to disinherit a troubled loved one. Instead, pass assets in a protected trust and name a professional such as a bank, trust company, or CPA as trustee. Trust assets can be used to help your loved one such as paying rent or rehabilitation, but not given directly to him or her.
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