Should I Update My Estate Plan?

Posted on: May 12th, 2012
Yes, absolutely. No question about it. I could make this one of the shortest and easiest to read posts, but allow me to elaborate on my answer.

     In my opinion, it makes total sense to continue your relationship with your estate planning attorney and have your documents reviewed on a regular basis. I personally see no reason to go through the entire process and pay good money, only to never have your plan evaluated.

Our Lives Change

     I think one of the most compelling reasons to continue your relationship with your attorney and make sure you plan is up to date is that our lives change. Children are born and they get married, you might have grandchildren, or maybe there is a change in your marital status. Or, maybe there is a change in your income, or you get relocated to a new state, or perhaps you acquire a significant asset in another state such as a vacation home. Or, you might inherit something from your parents or siblings. Whatever the reason, chances are your life will not look the same 5 years from now.

     Here are some other reasons to update your estate plan:

  • You reach age 70 ½ and must take required minimum distributions from your IRA
  • The person you selected as a beneficiary is deceased or is no longer deserving
  • Your executor or trustee is deceased or you no longer want them to serve

     If you think about it, we do go to the doctor (or at least we should go to the doctor) for annual exams. For our vehicles, we do routine maintenance such as changing the oil and rotating the tires. For our homes we clean the carpets, put on new roofs, re-paint the walls, and update our appliances. All of these things are done to protect ourselves against sickness and to maintain the value of our investments. So, why would we not do the same for our estate plans? Is this the one of the few things that will leave a lasting impression on future generations?

Legacy Plan

     All of my clients have the opportunity to enroll in our Legacy Plan. This is our regular maintenance plan that allows us to continue our relationship and ensure that the client’s estate plan is optimally designed for their current situation. For those clients that choose to do so, they get the following benefits:

     1. A face-to-face meeting at least once every two years where we sit down and take inventory of their estate, review beneficiary designations, and make sure their plan is meeting their current needs;

     2. The ability to call or email as needed with no fear of getting a bill;

     3. Free word processing changes in their documents if they need to simply change out an executor or trustee;

     4. Continued enrollment in our emergency medical directive and contacts program;

     5. Secure electronic access to all of their documents; and

     6. A discount on future substantive changes or amendments to their estate plan.

     If your estate planning attorney does not offer a regular maintenance plan, I encourage you to find one who does, because your life will undoubtedly change in the next 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.

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