Chipman Mazzucco Emerson LLC

Prioritize estate planning

People living in Connecticut and elsewhere often prefer to not consider their own mortality as well the mortality of those whom they love. Unfortunately, this very understandable aversion to the topic of death can lead to negative consequences for individuals and families.

Experts agree that estate planning is important for everyone at every stage of their adult lives. Even though many people have good reason to expect that they will live into old age, illness and accidents can, in some cases, cut a life short. In addition, while a person may survive a serious illness or accident, they may no longer be able to make decisions for themselves.

Another issue is that many people who do establish an estate plan fail to update it. Personal circumstances and family dynamics can change radically over the years. For example, couples may divorce and remarry other people. This requires additional estate planning. The same is true when it comes to an estate planner's children: Some may have children of their own, marry and divorce other people, pass away or, for some reason, become unable to manage an inheritance.

Failure to update an estate plan can have serious ramifications. If someone divorces and remarries without updating wills or beneficiaries on insurance policies and retirement accounts, an ex-spouse could end up inheriting that person's estate, leaving a current spouse homeless and penniless.

When a family undergoes a change, adults should update their estate plans. In addition, they should review their current wills, workplace beneficiary forms and end-of-life documents at least annually to ensure that they reflect the estate planner's life situation and preferences. An experienced attorney may be able to provide guidance to a client when creating and updating a plan.

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