When Do You Need to Worry If Current Will or Estate Plan Documents Need To Be Revised?

So you have a Will and an Estate Plan. You're done, right? Wrong. It's a common misconception that Wills and Estate Plans, once written, are generally documents that stand the test of time. Rarely does a document, even just a few years old, accurately express the client's wishes because of changes to their assets, life, marital status, or even changes to tax laws. It's a good idea to review this information yearly.

ANNUAL ESTATE PLAN REVIEW CHECKLIST

To make sure your plans are up-to-date, use the questions below. If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, schedule a telephone conference or office appointment so your attorney can review your plan with you.

ESTATE PLAN DOCUMENTS

1. Do I need to change any agent, personal representative, trustee, guardian, or their successors named in my estate plan documents?

2. Have any of my beneficiaries reached an age designated under my will or trust?

3. Have any deaths, births, adoptions, divorces or marriages changed my plans for my property?

4. Has the value of my estate grown or fallen significantly since I last reviewed my plan?

5. Do I wish to add, delete or change any charitable gifts or specific bequests to my will or trust?

6. Do I need to write or update my "laundry list" of beneficiaries to receive certain tangible personal property or provide instructions on how to dispose of such property?

7. Do my beneficiaries have large estates, to the extent an inheritance from me would increase the tax owed for their own estates?

8. Are any of my beneficiaries subject to claims of creditors, possible divorce or potential lawsuits to the extent that I need to protect their inheritance?

9. Are any of my beneficiaries disabled to the extent that I need to provide a special needs trust to manage their inheritance and avoid their disqualification from government assistance?

10. Have I changed my residency to another state since I executed my estate plan?

11. Do I need to write a supplemental letter to my beneficiaries to provide funeral instructions, personal advice, etc.?

Again, if you answered "yes" to any of the questions posed, or if you're not sure if your plan needs changed, contact your attorney anyway and they can help you identify any holes in your plans that may need addressed and the potential costs associated with making the changes. It's better to take care of those changes yearly, than it is to ignore them and find out later you don't have the documents drafted the way you want them.

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