Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Monday, May 11, 2015

Estate Planning for Major Milestones

When it comes to updating an estate plan, there is no better time to make changes than immediately following one of life’s major milestones, including a birth, death, divorce, marriage or adoption within the family. Regularly updating an estate plan not only helps ensure the will or trust is honored when the time comes but also helps protect against unintentional disinheritances or bequests. It is also advisable to make changes to an estate plan upon major financial transitions, such as receipt of a sizable inheritance, retirement, promotion or entering into long-term care.

Marriage and divorce are two of the most significant milestones from an estate planning perspective. For most Arkansas couples, the surviving spouse is named as a beneficiary in the decedent’s Will. Under Arkansas law, if, after making a will, the testator (the person who made the Will) becomes divorced, then all provisions in the will in favor of the testator’s spouse so divorced are revoked.  Even though the ex-spouse would not inherit under your Will, you would want to amend your estate plan to ensure that your property passes as you intend.  

The birth of a child or grandchild or the death of a beneficiary is another milestone that should prompt prudent planners to make a change in their estate plans. In most wills, the term “child” or “children” is defined to include after-born children and those children (adopted or biological) who were not contemplated at the time the will was drafted. However, not every will is drafted to include this language, and it may be possible to unintentionally omit a child or grandchild for failure to update the language of a will or trust. Even if you omit (by not naming) a child in your Will, under Arkansas law they can receive a portion of the estate. Under Arkansas law, in order to disinherit a child, the testator must specifically mention the child and refer to the class in which the child is a member.

If you have experienced a significant milestone in your life and you need to implement or update an estate plan, the experienced attorneys at Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC can help. We have offices in Little Rock, Conway, and Hot Springs Village. Contact us today by calling (501)482-1787 or (888)770-1848.

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