Great, you created your estate plan; and by getting crucial documents drafted and signed, you are ahead of most people in planning for your future. An estate plan is not a “set it and forget it” type of thing. The only thing worse than not having a plan, is having one that does not match your goals and wishes. You should make changes to your estate plan when you change your mind about who will get your money and property when you die. As we all know too well, other people make decisions that affect us. Events that we don’t have control over also can cause us to change our plans. The well-used saying is “life happens”. When life happens, remember to review your estate planning documents. Make sure the plan you created is still consistent with what you currently want.
The following examples can happen to you, your immediate family, or other people. They should act as a reminder to you to review your estate planning documents and make sure that the documents say exactly what you want them to say. Typically, wills and trust documents can be amended. Updating those parts of an estate plan should not require you to have completely new documents created. On the other hand, power of attorneys for health care, power of attorneys for financial matters, and living wills usually require that a new document be created for your changes to be effective.
Events That Happen To You
Certainly, your estate plan should be reviewed and assessed whenever the size of your immediate family increases or decreases. Examples of common events that increase family sizes are marriages, births, or adoptions. Life also happens and could cause a decrease in family sizes, such as through divorce, legal separation, deaths. There could be other events, like getting a promotion, returning to school for a degree, moving to another state, “up-sizing” or “down-sizing” your home, or purchasing a vacation home, condo, or timeshare. Last, but not least, let us not forget to think of the always fun event of winning a mega-million lottery.
Events That Happen to Others
Less frequently thought of are events that happen to others. These events could likely to have an impact on your estate plan. Some of these events may include a parent becoming incapacitated or passing away, a sibling of yours getting married, starting a family, or passing away while still having minor children (guardianship issues). Changes in your estate plan goals also come from events involving your adult children. They could get married, have children of their own, get divorced, become incapacitated by an accident, or pass away.
Another event that is beyond the control of most people is a change in a law relating to wills, living wills, trusts, power of Attorneys for health care decisions or for financial matters. Very few of us stay up-to-date on proposed changes to laws. Having an estate planning attorney review your estate planning documents every three to five years is a way to ensure that your estate plan not only is in alignment with your state’s laws, but also accurately reflects your goals and wishes.
If you have not had your estate plan reviewed in the last three to five years, you should contact a couple of estate planning attorneys in your area. Talk with the one who you feel most comfortable working with about your goals and wishes for your estate plan. Have them make sure your estate plan says what you need and want it to say.
You can contact Alfano Law Office here.