As an Estate Planning & Elder Law attorney, I cannot overstate the importance of regular reviews of your estate plan. Many people think of estate planning as a one-time event, something to be done and then forgotten. But in reality, your estate plan should be a living, breathing document that changes and evolves with your life circumstances.
An estate plan is a legal document that outlines your wishes for how your assets will be distributed after you pass away. It can also include provisions for how you want to be cared for in case you become incapacitated, as well as who should make important decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself.
But even the most well-crafted estate plan can become outdated if you don’t review and update it regularly. Life is full of changes, both big and small, that can impact your estate plan. Here are just a few examples:
- If a loved one dies: If a beneficiary or executor named in your estate plan passes away, you’ll need to update your plan accordingly.
- If you lose, sell, or acquire assets: Changes in your financial situation can have a significant impact on your estate plan. If you sell an asset, you may need to revise your plan to reflect the loss of that asset. On the other hand, if you acquire new assets, you may need to update your plan to include them.
- Birth of new family members: The birth of a child or grandchild is a joyous occasion, but it also means that you may need to revise your estate plan to ensure that your new family members are included.
- Divorce: If you get divorced, you’ll need to update your estate plan to reflect the change in your marital status.
- Changes in tax laws: Tax laws are constantly changing, and these changes can have a big impact on your estate plan. Regular reviews can ensure that your plan is still tax-efficient.
These are just a few examples of the many changes that can impact your estate plan. By reviewing your plan annually (at a minimum), you can ensure that it still meets your needs and reflects your current circumstances.
During your review, be sure to consider the following:
- Are your beneficiaries still accurate?
- Do your estate planning documents still reflect your wishes?
- Have there been any significant changes in your assets or liabilities?
- Are your financial and healthcare powers of attorney still accurate?
- Do you need to make any changes to your tax planning strategies?
If you’re not sure where to start, I encourage you to reach out to an estate planning attorney for help. A knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate the complexities of estate planning and ensure that your plan is up-to-date and meets your needs.
In conclusion, regular reviews of your estate plan are crucial to ensure that it still reflects your wishes and meets your needs. By taking the time to review your plan annually and make any necessary updates, you can have peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of according to your wishes.