Once you complete your estate plan, it can turn out to be worthless if it’s not regularly reviewed and potentially updated.
Estate planning should not be a one-and-done type of deal—your plan should be reviewed since your life circumstances may change: families change, laws change, assets change, and goals change. In the absence of any significant life events, we recommend reviewing your estate plan at least every 4-5 years to ensure its terms are up to date.
Additionally, several common life events require you to update your plan immediately—that is, if you want it to actually work and keep your loved ones out of court and out of conflict. With this in mind, if any of the following events occur, you may need to amend your estate plan:
• You get married
• You get divorced
• You give birth or adopt
• A loved one dies
• You get seriously ill or injured
• You relocate to a new state
• Your assets or liabilities change significantly
• You plan to buy or sell a business
Keeping your estate plan current is so very important because your plan is designed to protect and provide for your loved ones in the event of your death or incapacity. Your estate planning attorney should take the time to get to know you and your family members. You may even want to consider including them in the planning process, so everyone affected by your plan is aware of your latest planning strategies and why you made the choices you did, along with knowing exactly what they need to do if something happens to you.
Outside of not creating an estate plan at all, one of the most common planning mistakes we encounter is when we get called by a client who is the loved one of someone who has become incapacitated or has passed with a plan that no longer works because it has not been properly updated. Unfortunately, once something happens to you, it’s too late to adjust your plan, and the loved ones you leave behind are forced to deal with the aftermath.
Using an estate planning attorney that will support you in not only creating a plan that keeps your family out of court and out of conflict in the event of your death or incapacity, but the attorney will also ensure that your plan is regularly updated to make certain that it works and is there for your family when you cannot be.
Paul B. Owens is an attorney practicing in the areas of Probate and Estate Planning law. He serves in a number of other capacities, including on the Board of Directors for the CASA Helotes Senior Center in Helotes Texas. He can be reached at his office in Helotes at 210-695-5110 or at www.PaulOwensLaw.com