Despite the world still having 100% mortality rate, planning for the inevitable is rarely something we look forward to. No one wants to think about their own mortality – and our families can be even worse; choosing to bury their heads in the sand rather than think about losing us.
That’s why many put off estate planning – or worse – never get to it at all. And for those who do it, oftentimes, it gets done, you think it’s over and you shove it in a drawer and never think about it again. Sound familiar?
Not reviewing your estate plan on a regular basis can be almost as bad as not having one at all. Changes in your family, finances, investments, and laws can make the best laid estate plans, wills, and trusts, moot. Leaving your family with exactly what you wanted to avoid; questions, confusion – and worse, lengthy and costly probate.
Here are 5 reasons you need to review your estate plan:
1. Family changes. It may be obvious that if you get a divorce, lose a spouse or child, or adopt a child (or disinherit one) that an estate plan review is in order. But did you know that this also applies to your children and other heirs? If THEY get married, change their names, get a divorce, adopt children, or have any other changes in their family, it might be a good idea to take a look at your plan and see if any changes need to be made. This is also true in the case of incapacitation of a spouse (yours or your heirs’).
2. Changes in income. Whether it’s retirement, bankruptcy, inheriting money, winning the lottery (nice problem to have!), buying investment property (especially if it’s out of state), this is a huge reason to get your plan reviewed. If it’s not included in your plan it opens your family up to expensive probate and other problems once you’re gone.
3. Changing state of residency. Trust and estate planning laws can vary by state – especially if moving from a common law to a community property state. So if you move be sure to contact your estate planning attorney for a review.
4. Changes in the law. You can’t possibly know every law and how it affects your estate plan, and you especially aren’t expected to keep up on changes in the law! A good estate planning attorney will do that for you – and should contact you for an estate plan review if changes in the law affect you. We update our clients by email. If you would like to add yourself or your friends and family to the list, please click here.
5. If you’re in doubt. If you are ever in doubt about anything, it’s best to check with your estate planning attorney to find out if you need to review your plan. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.