Developing a comprehensive estate plan is one of the most important things someone can do. The decision to create an estate plan is critical, regardless of the amount of assets that they wish to leave behind to loved ones or other designated beneficiaries. What many people do not realize, however, is that you have to revisit your estate planning every few years.
If you do not have an estate plan, it would be wise to consider getting started. For those who already have one, the beginning of a new year is an optimal time to update it, especially if life changes have occurred in the previous year or since the last time it was amended.
It is worth considering, for example, any relationships that might impact a previously crafted plan such as a divorce, new grandchildren, or a death in the family. A significant change, whether personal or professional, could present an opportunity to either sever ties or include a person or organization in your estate. A named child, who reaches the age of majority during the preceding year may also may require updated attention.
These are only a few items that would best be addressed in consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney. Documents such as wills, trust agreements, powers of attorney and others, are complicated and subject to various state laws. Estate planning, however, is much more than “documents” and an estate planning attorney will be able to guide you through the questions you need to answer.
Even without an obvious personal or financial event, it is a general rule of thumb to revisit a plan at least every three years. Many pertinent events can transpire in a three-year period, sometimes without you even realizing it. For instance, estate laws can change federally and vary from state to state. If you move across state lines, perhaps for warmer weather, lower taxes or to be closer to your grandchildren, different laws could upend previously settled items, like a revocable trust agreement.
Tweaking an existing plan also may be in order as even the smallest details could impact planning goals. If you have a secondary residence, you may be able to establish your permanent residence in the state that has more advantageous laws to your circumstances. Other considerations might include adapting to new market fluctuations, newly passed or repealed tax laws, and your developing health concerns.
There is a lot to know, and working with an estate planning attorney could be the most expedient way to craft the best overall plan for your needs. After all, it is your hard-earned money and your legacy. Why not make absolutely sure there is a sound plan in place? We encourage you to contact us with your questions and talk to an attorney on our legal team.