People often think that once they have drafted their will or developed an estate plan that their affairs are in order, and their wishes will be upheld in the event of their death. Not all estate plans age well, however, and over time numerous factors can render provisions of a will or estate planning document obsolete. Out-of-date estate plans can lead to discord between family members and costly litigation. Thankfully, though, there are measures you can take to avoid the dangers of having an out-of-date estate plan.
The Dangers of Having an Out-Of-Date Estate Plan
The primary risk of an out-of-date estate plan is that it will not reflect your wishes with regard to important issues, like how your assets should be divided and what care you will receive in your later years. For example, if a person’s marital status has changed since they drafted their will, it can result in either a former spouse receiving some or all of the person’s estate once they die or their current spouse receiving nothing, neither of which is a desirable outcome. If a child was born after an estate plan was made, the child will not be named as a beneficiary of the estate, and there will not be any provisions dictating how the child will be taken care of in the event of the parent’s death. Similarly, if a beneficiary passed away after an estate plan was drafted, it will render it out-of-date.
In some cases, a person will obtain a substantial asset after drafting an estate plan, and the plan will not reflect how the asset should be handled in the event of their death. Estate plans can also become outdated with respect to issues other than the disbursement of assets. Estate plans should reflect who should be granted power of attorney with regard to the drafter’s financial matters and who should be named as a Health Care Proxy to make healthcare decisions. If other provisions of an estate plan have become outdated, any power of attorney or health care designations are likely outdated as well and will need to be revisited to ensure that they adequately reflect the drafter’s wishes.
Factors other than changes in a person’s relationship status can render an estate plan out-of-date. For example, if a person moves to a new state, the laws of their new home may impact their estate plan. Similarly, changes in the law that have occurred since their plan was drafted can change the execution of their plan. People are often unaware of modifications to tax or estate planning statutes or their implications and may not know that such changes can adversely impact their rights.
Meet With an Attorney to Ensure Your Estate Plan is Up to Date
Generally, regardless of what has transpired in a person’s life since they drafted their estate plan, it will most likely become out-of-date at some point. As such, it is prudent for them to revisit the plan and seek the assistance of an estate planning attorney to ensure that it is appropriate to achieve their desired outcome. If you have questions or concerns regarding your current estate plan, contact Roth Elder Law, PLLC as soon as possible.