It is common to meet people who have the notion that estate planning is just a one-time event. But that shouldn’t be the case because you must ensure that your plan aligns with your life’s changes. This is also one reason people hold off when they know they need a will. They are “waiting” for the perfect time, but there is no time like the present.
Initially, it will help you to gather important documents. An estate planning checklist can help. Setting aside valuable time to go over your plan annually, and consulting your estate planning attorney every 2 to 3 years is ideal. This will help to keep your plans up-to-date.
Estate planning reviews and updates
Consider these 5 crucial areas to take note of when its time to review your estate plans with your estate planning lawyer.
1. Deaths and other family changes
Have any of the people whose names appear in your documents died? Go through your wills and trusts, as well as durable powers of attorney and medical powers of attorney to see if any of the important names have passed. Of course, every well-drafted estate plan must make room for an alternate executor or alternate assets distribution should a case as this occur. But it still makes sense to update your documents to reflect the present situation of things in your life.
You might have reason to change your plans due to other changes asides death. Should your officially named executor move outside the country or if an agent, executor or trustee suffers a physical or mental disability, you’ve got a reason to update your plan. You may also have a child battling drug abuse and will need to set up a trust for them so that they don’t squander their estate share.
2. Divorce and Remarriage
Under powers of attorney, a spouse is usually the agent for most people. They also make their spouse the executor, giving them control of all or most of their possessions when they die. According to the law in Texas, divorce renders all of that invalid. This means you might find yourself without someone to fill those roles. Besides, getting your new spouse to substitute for your former partner will not be an automatic process. New documents will have to be executed to enable your new partner to receive a share of your property at death or for them to become your agent.
This is another clear reason for you to review and update your plans. You might also want to check to see whether you want your plans updated if your child gets divorced or remarries.
3. Asset changes
As years progress, your assets will continue to change. This makes the review of your plan very important. Let’s say you leave your house at “XYZ street” to your child but eventually sell it out and buy a new one. Your new house will automatically fall under your Will’s residuary clause rather than go to your child.
It’s also possible that you left some of your estate to someone that you love in your will. This may have been due to a bank account payable to that person on death. Is that account closed? If yes, then, it makes sense to update your Will at once. If you also have a revocable living trust in your plan, regularly consider whether the trust has received all the right property or if it is set up for the transfer once you pass on.
Do not take any chances but ensure that you have a deep knowledge of your assets and the roles they play in your plans. Many credible financial professionals set up annual appointments with clients to review their investments and ensure that they are on the right path. This can also be a good time for you to think about making updates to your estate plan. The estate planning lawyers at Thomas Walters, PLLC can help you with this.
4. Life Insurance
Life insurance coverage considerations are also necessary. What amount do you have and is that amount right? Is your life insurance coverage too little or too much? And who is the policy’s beneficiary? You want to make sure you know all these details.
On several occasions, many clients have come back to express their surprise when they find out whose name is listed as their life insurance beneficiary. They did this because we advised them to check. That’s because we want them to be sure that the right person receives it. Allowing that to go to your estate will only risk exposing it to your creditors potentially.
5. A change of mind
It’s also possible that you’ve changed your mind regarding giving your property to a certain person. Maybe you’ve developed a deeper connection with your power of attorney’s alternate agent and want them to take care of your affairs if the need arises. It is a good step to regularly analyze and review your plan to determine whether you might want to make some changes.
Should you become disabled or pass away, good estate planning keeps you at peace and takes care of the people you consider to be important in your life. But it is up to you to review and update your plan to ensure that it reflects the changes in your life and meets your objectives.
Thomas-Walters Estate Planning is here to help you handle the intricacies of updating your estate plan. Our lead attorney Leslie Thomas will ensure that your estate plan is customized to suit your life and assets.
Reach out to us and we’ll help you get that peace of mind that comes from knowing you have the best estate planning lawyers standing with you for life.