Most likely, updating your estate plan isn’t something you think about often. And why should it be? You’re mostly happy, somewhat healthy, and you have a pretty good life. Thinking about the inevitable really puts a damper on your day.

As difficult as it is to plan for the inevitable, estate plans are critical. When (not if) something happens to you, you know your loved ones are planned for and your financial wishes are honored. (That shifty cousin won’t get anything). Throughout your life, those last wishes can change with major life events.

Here are ten life changing events that should remind you to update your estate plan.

  1. Marriage

Did you know your spouse may not be the sole beneficiary or heir of your estate? In Connecticut, who is entitled to benefit from your estate after your death is up in the air without a solid estate plan. Our statutes provide that stepchildren do not inherit from step parents by default, they have to be specifically named in an estate plan.

To make sure your spouse, or anyone else, gets particular belongings from your estate, you must outline it in your plan. Whenever you get married, take a look through your estate plan and make any necessary adjustments.

  1. Remarriage

Generally, getting married does not mean your new spouse gets your entire estate. In Connecticut the law provides that your new spouse may share in your assets together with your children from a previous marriage unless you change this default through estate planning.

If you get remarried, it’s important that you update your estate plan to include your spouse and include or exclude his or her children, if any.

  1. Divorce

Once a court dissolves your marriage, the laws of Connecticut automatically void your existing will, unless you have made a provision in the will for a divorce. If you included provisions in your estate plan that give specific property to your former spouse by name, and you still wish to do that, you will need to re-execute your estate plan in order to accomplish that going forward.

So that’s the Top 3. Keep reading Part 2 and Part 3.

Thomas Babson Kane is an attorney in Glastonbury, CT, specializing in Estate Planning and Real Estate law.

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