When Should I Review My Estate Plan?
An estate plan needs cultivation. In much the same way that a plant needs care, water, and sun, an estate plan needs regular maintenance. As you age, form new personal relationships, end relationships, have children, divorce, marry, etc., you’ll need to tend to your estate plan to make sure that it is up to date and that it reflects all your wishes and desires properly. As circumstances change in your life, so should your estate plan.
How often you should review and/or update your estate plan depends on many factors, factors that are unique to an individual person. Some may feel waiting five to ten years between each estate plan review is adequate; others may feel it should be reviewed at least once a year. It is up to the individual of course, but most attorneys would probably agree—an estate plan that hasn’t been reviewed within the past five years should be considered as soon as possible. Laws change, events take place, and it is always a good idea to review your estate plan to make sure it stays current. You may need to make a change to important documents, update your will, consider your powers of attorney and beneficiaries, etc. It’s best to review it all on a fairly regular basis; make an appointment with your attorney and keep that estate plan functioning well.
Hire The Best Estate Planning Attorney You Can, To Review Your Estate Plan
As mentioned above, if you’ve not seen your estate plan in a while, it’s probably best to dust it off and have a seasoned estate planning attorney review it. You may need to make a change, update some information, or tweak your will, and that’s what an estate planning attorney is for—we’re here to help you plan for your future. And while no one cares to think of it, if you become seriously incapacitated and haven’t updated your estate plan, you may not be able to after the fact. Will your family be protected if your estate plan is out of date? Don’t take that chance; update your estate plan regularly.
Estate Planning: Major Life Events
If a major life event occurs, use that as a reminder to see your attorney and update your estate plan. A divorce, a remarriage, a spouse’s death, etc. would all be examples of major life events that should trigger an appointment with your attorney. It’s a known fact that an outdated will or estate plan document can set up a nightmare situation for your family if you should pass away. You don’t want to pull your family into difficult, often awkward, court proceedings because you failed to plan properly, and now the courts have to intervene heavily to handle your estate, or parts of your estate, or the disposition of your assets. Spare your family the added grief during their time of mourning, keep your estate plan up to date so they can focus on being a family and supporting each other in such a difficult emotional time.
So When Should I Update My Estate Plan?
Again, it’s up to the individual to decide what is best for them, and best for their family, but most attorneys would agree that regular and consistent maintenance of your estate plan is a good idea indeed. Some choose to review their entire financial plan at the same time. It is common for reviews to occur annually, some prefer semi-annually, but at the bare minimum you should do a full review every three to five years, and of course immediately after any major life event.
When you review your complete estate plan with regularity you will ensure that your wishes are met, that your affairs are handled in the manner you desire, and that your family is protected.
Important Issues And Events To Consider: How We Can Help
We’ll review your estate plan to ensure that your children are properly protected in every way, shielding your personal assets from the spouse you are divorcing and/or relatives.
We’ll help you design an estate plan that properly reflects your wishes in light of a new marriage, by considering and implementing asset preservation strategies that carefully consider stepchildren and newly acquired extended family.
The Death of a Spouse
It is a common practice to leave assets to a surviving spouse, so in the event your spouse passes, you should be sure to update your will and all documents to name a new beneficiary.
Death or Incapacitation of a Child or Other Heir
If you have the misfortune of losing a child to an early death, you’ll need to make a change to your will and all estate planning documents to name a new beneficiary.
Divorce or Remarriage of Adult Child
It is important to consider your estate plan and will in regard to adult children. We’ll help you secure your estate plan to protect your assets from ex-spouses and stepchildren if you so desire.
Many wills don’t address grandchildren. We’ll help you to update your estate plan and will such that all your grandchildren are addressed in terms of the distribution of assets, trusts, etc.
Relocation from Another State
When you move from one state to another you should not assume that your estate plan is transferable. States have laws that can vary greatly from one to another. Be sure to check in with your attorney if you are planning a move to another state.
Major Promotions, Asset Increases, and Windfalls
There could come a time when your goals have changed even though your life has stayed the same. You may want to consider how promotions, assets increases, and windfalls affect your beneficiaries. Should you want to make a change, your estate planning attorney can assist you.
Taxes Can and DO Change
If you are fortunate enough to have a high income and/or significant assets, you’ll need to pay careful attention to estate tax issues. Many states have harsh estate taxes, so you’ll want to address these issues with your attorney long before your estate will be taxed. Estate taxes may seize a large portion of the inheritance you wanted to go to family members. When we work with you we can help you devise methods of protecting your assets from overreaching estate taxes.
Wealth Preservation: A Will Won’t Always Save Your Savings
We understand the mechanisms of wealth preservation, how to set up and how to protect assets. A standard will is necessary always, but it will take much more than a will to truly protect your wealth. Estate taxes can rip into your biggest assets and leave your family with much less than you hoped. When considering wealth preservation, you must talk with your attorney about trusts. We can help you set up trusts specifically designed to combat overreaching estate taxes.
Keeping Up with All the Changes in Rules and Laws
Government is a constantly evolving organism, meaning that it is changing and morphing all the time. You need to stay up to date on all the changes, and thus meeting regularly with your attorney to discuss how these laws impact your estate is a great idea. You’ve worked hard to earn your estate and all those assets, so you need to ensure that you protect them; contact your estate planning attorney and give your whole estate plan a checkup.
- Birth or Adoption: New Child or Grandchild
- What To Do When Your Child or Grandchild Becomes an Adult
- Educational Funding for Your Child or Grandchild
- Life or Long-Term Care Insurance Coverage: Changes and Updates
- Purchase of a Home or Another Type of Large Asset
- Borrowing a Large Sum of Money or Incurring Liability
- Large Increases or Decreases in the Present Value of Your Assets & Investments
For more information on Reviewing Your Estate Plan In Texas, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (512) 288-3200 today.