There are several life events that should prompt people in Pennsylvania to create or review an estate plan. When people get married, they may want to ensure that their spouse is listed on their beneficiary designations and has medical and financial power of attorney in case of emergency. On the other hand, a person may not want a spouse to inherit everything, and an estate plan can clarify what assets should go to other loved ones.

Just as marriage may not mean that a person wants everything to go to a spouse, not everyone wishes to disinherit an ex-spouse in a divorce. Whether or not this is the case, the plan should be reviewed after the divorce and changed if necessary. New parents must make sure to add their children to the estate plan, and as they grow up, additional changes might be necessary. The death of a beneficiary or someone who has a role in the estate plan, such as an executor, is another reason to revise the plan.

A person who becomes seriously ill should create or review the plan while still mentally competent. A significant change in assets should also trigger a review as should moving to a new place. A periodic review with an attorney may also alert an individual to changes in laws that mean the plan needs to be changed as well.

Working with an attorney to create an estate plan can help an individual determine what documents may be best for the estate plan. For example, while a simple will might be sufficient for many people to pass their assets, others may want to use trusts, which can be powerful documents that can protect assets in a number of different ways. An attorney may also help an individual draw up documents that appoint people to take over in case of incapacity, and can nominate healthcare surrogates and guardians for children. When in doubt, contact an experienced estate planning lawyer to answer your questions. Good planning today will yield peace of mind tomorrow.