Once you create an estate plan, it is easy to just file it away in a drawer and assume you and your loved ones are covered for every possible future situation. The thing is, though, that is not always possible. Life throws you curveballs. Situations change — whether intended or not. Your needs and those of your family are fluid. So while it is great that you have something in place, it is wise to constantly review that plan to ensure that it is current and still expresses your wishes.
All of our clients understand and respect that train of thought. But the first question many of them ask is, “How often should my estate plan be reviewed?” That is a great question!
The answer: At least every three years.
When I meet with a client to go over what has happened in their family, I almost always discover new things that need to be changed or updated in their estate plan. For example, when a client met with me for a three-year review of his living trust, I asked if there were any changes that he knew of. At first, he said there were not any. But a few minutes later, I asked him about his children and grandchildren and what was going on in their lives. He mentioned that his daughter had been in a car wreck and suffered a head injury. Sadly, she was unable to remember numbers or handle money.
That is when a slew of bells and whistles went off in my head. In his trust, he was leaving his daughter $100,000 outright. While a great inheritance this is for anyone, how would she manage that money considering her present condition?
At the very least, she would need someone to manage those funds for her.
And in a worst-case scenario, she may eventually need to rely on government benefits.
Clearly, a change was in order.
There are countless examples of estate plan reviews that have turned up significant issues that needed to be resolved. And really, none of them were anyone’s fault. Again, life changes constantly.
Questions to Revisit with Your Estate Planning Attorney
When it’s time to take a hard look at your current estate planning strategy, whether it be a will, trust, POA, or another important document, please include your attorney in the process. In my book, Who Gets Your Stuff When You Die, I discuss the importance of this as well as a few basic questions to consider during this three-year review.
- Does your trust or will protect the assets that your beneficiaries inherit against divorce, creditors, and lawsuits?
- Do we need to discuss protecting your assets if you need to go into a nursing home?
- Who will take care of your children if you cannot?
- If your will or trust was prepared when the children were young, are their needs different now?
- If you have retirement accounts totaling more than $200,000, have you set up a Retirement Plan Trust?
- Are all your assets in the trust name? Have you recently purchased any assets that are not in the trust name?
- Did you purchase any life insurance or annuities? If so, are the beneficiaries properly designated?
- Did you review or update your estate plan to account for changes to state and federal law?
- Have you updated your trust and advance healthcare directive to account for the HIPAA medical information act?
- Have there been any changes in your family?
- Do you want to change the people who are named as executor and trustee?
- Do you want to change any of the beneficiaries or how they receive property?
Call Leigh Hilton PLLC Today!!
How often should my estate plan be reviewed? Again, at least every three years. Some changes are predictable, though we still may not know how soon they will occur. Other changes are not so predictable. Either way, it is important to be prepared for as many situations as possible. Call Leigh Hilton PLLC in Denton, TX, and we will help walk you through all of your estate planning needs. We have ample experience and will take into consideration your particular situation. Proper planning of an estate, whether through a Will, Trust, or both, helps ensure your wishes are carried out.
Leigh Hilton PLLC wants to be your first call every time for any estate planning need. We look forward to serving you.
Thanks for reading!