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Update your plan to make estate administration and probate easier

The Boy Scout motto "Be prepared" translates into many areas of a Georgia resident's life. Estate planning is one of those areas in which making advance preparations eases the burdens on family members in the event of incapacitation or death. However, if the plan is not updated when needed, it may make estate administration and probate more difficult when the time comes.

Estate plans need to be reviewed periodically or upon the occurrence of a major life event such as a marriage, divorce or birth of a child. In many cases, a change in circumstances may need to be accommodated to ensure that a person's goals are still being met by the documents. People change, relationships change and circumstances change -- and an estate plan may require changes as well.

In addition to reviewing the "normal" estate planning documents, an individual should also review any beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and/or life insurance policies. Many people forget about these documents after the initial form is filled out at the time the account is opened or the policy is purchased. As the years go by, the named beneficiary or beneficiaries might no longer be appropriate. In most cases, the beneficiary designation overrides anything in the will, so it is imperative to review and change these forms when necessary.

Regardless of whether a Georgia resident is providing for family, avoiding unnecessary taxes or has some other estate-planning goal, an important focus of the documents is to make estate administration and probate easier on surviving family members. Ensuring that they remain as current as possible achieves this goal. Dust off the documents every so often to make sure they still apply.

Source: MarketWatch, "Is your estate plan up to date? Check these 5 things", Melody Juge, Jan. 12, 2017

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