When is it necessary to update your Estate Plan?
So you've already done the responsible thing and put together your estate plan. But several years have passed and life circumstances may have changed. So when is it necessary to go back to your attorney to update your will, trust, power of attorney, and healthcare directive? If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, I recommend an update:
Factors that May Impact your Estate Plan
Have there been any births in your family?
Have there been any deaths?
Have you gotten divorced?
Have you gotten married or remarried?
Have you been diagnosed with a new health condition?
Has your net worth significantly changed?
Have you added large assets to your estate which are not yet in your trust?
Have you sold or bought a business?
Have you moved to a different state or country?
Are there any new tax laws that will affect your estate taxes?
What will your attorney need to revise your Estate Plan?
Your current original estate planning documents, including your Financial Power of Attorney, Advance Healthcare Directive, Will, and Trust
Copies of deeds or other asset ownership information (for example: do you own a gold mine? One of my clients had one in South Africa!)
Should I update my Estate Plan with the attorney who drafted the original?
If you did your will or trust a number of years ago, consider establishing a relationship with a new, younger Estate Planning attorney. I recommend this for two reasons:
A younger attorney is more likely to be around to assist you with questions and concerns in the future. You will also have the opportunity to build a lasting relationship with someone you trust to assist your family when you pass.
A second pair of eyes never hurts. Even if you choose to stick with your original Estate Planning lawyer, consider letting another attorney in the field double check your plan. I've had many potential clients bring me their current Estate Plans to review. Some are well done, and very little time is needed to make updates. Some estate planning documents, on the other hand, are poorly worded and confusing, which can lead to unnecessary estate litigation down the road.
Updating your Estate Plan to make sure it is still relevant can be just as crucial as doing an Estate Plan in the first place. I often see Estate Plans in which children went unnamed, simply because they were not born, people who have payed far more in taxes than necessary, and assets that are forced to pass through probate, simply because the decedent forgot to place them in their trust.