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Helping People Age with Dignity

Thinking about the future when big life changes occur

When a big change happens in a person's life, such as a marriage, the birth of a child, a major change in employment situation or a big financial gain or loss, a lot of the person's thoughts might be on the present and the immediate ramifications of the change. However, in the wake of these sorts of events, thinking about issues regarding the future can also be extremely important, as these events can have big impacts on the future as well as the present.

One of the future-related things that such events could have impacts on is whether or not the things a person's estate plan, as it currently sits, would do when the person eventually passes away would be aligned with what they would want the plan to do. This is because big life changes can raise some new estate planning issues that the plan, when it was originally made, didn't address. So, one action directed towards the future a person may want to consider taking after a major life event is meeting with an estate planning attorney to have a talk about whether any updates need to be made to parts of their estate plan, such as their will, in light of the life change.

A big life change can not only have big effects in the future for the person they occur to, but also their family. Thus, following a big life change, another future-directed action a person may find helpful is having a discussion with their family about the change and the future financial impacts the change will likely have for the family. Among the topics a person may want to include in such a discussion are changes they are making to their estate plan as a result of the life change that could have impacts on family members.

Why might having such family discussions be helpful? They could help reduce the chances of financial changes (including family-impacting estate planning changes) from a major life change catching family members off-guard in the future. This in turn might, depending on the situation, be able to help reduce the chances of future financial-related conflicts within the family over the changes, such as future probate fights.

Source: The Street, "Family Financial Meetings Aren't Just for the Holidays," Jason Notte, April 11, 2016

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