When Should You Review Your Estate Plan?
I have found that many of my estate planning clients breathe a sigh of relief after finally putting pen to paper and signing their will, trust, power of attorney, living will, or other estate planning document. They will often say something like “Wow, I’m glad that’s finally done!” I usually take the opportunity to explain that, while they may be “done” for now, a properly functioning estate plan requires vigilance throughout a lifetime.
If you listened to my WCCS radio show, “Marshall Law” last week, you will know that I recommend periodic meetings with an attorney to discuss and review your estate plan. Unfortunately, many people do not update their estate plan often enough (if ever). Failing to update your estate plan can have dire and surprising consequences.
I have had to explain to more than one shocked beneficiary (or would-be beneficiary) that their mom, dad, a favorite aunt or uncle, or even their significant other, hadn’t updated their will or trust to reflect certain life changes.
Here are 7 life events that should trigger a review of your estate plan. In addition, you should have the plan reviewed by your attorney every three years.
- Additions to family. Have you added children, grandchildren, stepchildren to your family since your estate plan was drafted?
- Marriage, Divorce, or committed partnership.Have you gotten married or entered into a committed relationship? Has a divorce been filed or finalized, or have you separated from a longtime partner?
- Deaths. Have your beneficiaries, executors, or power of attorney agents passed away or become incapacitated?
- Changes in relationships. Are your beneficiaries still appropriate? Are your named executors and agents still people that you know and trust? Have they moved to a different city or state, making it more difficult for them to carry out their responsibilities?
- Acquisition or sale of business. Often, this will change the distribution scheme among your beneficiaries, and effect the continued operation of the business when an owner dies.
- Health concerns. Are you, your spouse, or beneficiary suffering from declining health? You should consider ways to protect assets while maintaining necessary benefits during life.
- Net worth fluctuation. Steep gains or declines in your overall worth can mean the need to modify your estate plan, and possibly to explore tax avoidance methods.
These seven examples are the most common reasons you should review your estate plan. If you would like to schedule a consultation, Contact the Chriswell Law Offices at 724-465-5826. And remember — at my office, estate planning consultations are always FREE.