A common question we get from clients is, “How often should I update my estate plan?” Life changes and laws change, so we certainly recommend reviewing your estate plan at least once a year. However, even we estate planning attorneys, who look at these documents every day, understand how easy it is to forego dusting off those documents.
But we aren’t in the business of upselling our clients either. We aren’t going to recommend revamping your estate plan each year if you don’t need it. We take the time to thoroughly assess your goals, circumstances, and assets, then make a fair and honest recommendation on whether you need to amend your documents at all. However, there are certain life occurrences that take place out of your control which would merit a prompt review and most likely an update to your current estate plan.
Do you have a new child or grandchild in your life? If so, did you only provide for specific children or grandchildren in your plan? Do you need to review the guardians named in your will? Even if you think you’re covered, you’ll want to consider the effects that the birth of a new loved one will have on your estate plan.
Have you recently lost a loved one or an appointed agent (executor, trustee, attorney-in-fact, etc.) named in your plan? Their death will certainly affect your life. It can also greatly affect your estate plan. Consider whether updates are needed to your structure and if you have named successor agents.
If a beneficiary of yours becomes disabled, you may be jeopardizing their public assistance benefits by giving them an outright distribution from your estate. With proper planning, a disabled beneficiary may receive an inheritance and still qualify for public assistance benefits.
Have you or a loved one recently married or re-married? Do you or your new spouse have children from a previous marriage? If yes, you most certainly will want to review your estate plan with these new circumstances in mind.
Have you or a beneficiary recently divorced? Does your estate plan account for this? You will want to update your plan to ensure your structure and appointed agents are correct.
Are you moving to or have you recently moved from another state? Once things settle down, you should have an attorney in your new state of residence review your documents to be sure that they address any state-specific requirements.
Changes in Estate Composition
Have you recently inherited wealth, started a new high-paying job, sold a business, experienced another form of windfall, or suffered a tremendous loss in the value of your estate? Any of these may dramatically affect your planning objectives precipitating the need for a thorough review of your estate plan.
Have you started a business, entered a Buy-Sell Agreement, altered the legal form of your business, lost or gained a business partner, or experienced a tremendous change in your business’ value? If any of these significant changes occur regarding your business interests, you should review your estate plan.
Tax Law Changes
Tax laws change. These changes may make your estate plan outdated. Sitting down with an attorney knowledgeable about the impacts of changes in the law is an important part of keeping your estate plan updated.
As time passes, life is changing. Are you unsure what your estate plan even says anymore? Are your wishes still the same as they once were? If you’re not clear whether your plan actually accomplishes your goals anymore, it is time to make sure your plan is updated.
The bottom line – keeping your estate plan reviewed and updated is crucial to protecting your loved ones and carrying out your wishes. A complete review done by our NC Planning team isn’t just a run-through of your documents. We make sure your review includes consideration of your current personal and family situation. We also take time to discuss your updated goals with your professional advisors to determine whether updates to your beneficiary designations, accounts, or other assets are needed. Being comprehensive in your review will ensure that your plan is efficient and protects your interests in all scenarios you may encounter. Give us a call today to schedule a comprehensive complimentary review with one of our attorneys.
Our attorneys are here to help you plan and strategize for the future of your business and your personal planning.