Common Estate Planning Error – No review of documents.
In my office, it is common for people to bring in their old estate planning documents. They will sheepishly admit that it has been quite a while since they updated them. How long? Well, their grandchildren are now older than their children were when they did their Wills.
No document or set of documents can be prepared that can meet your needs for twenty or thirty years. Life changes. People we cherish die. Friends move in and out of our lives. Our children grow up.
Estate Planning documents should be reviewed every three to five years. That doesn’t mean that you must make an appointment with an attorney every three to five years – it does mean that you need to take the documents out of the safe and re-read them and ask a few questions.
∙ Have your circumstances changed? Has a family member who you named as a Personal Representative, Trustee or Agent passed away? Has a beneficiary passed away?
∙ Have minors you named as beneficiaries become adults? Have one of your beneficiaries married? had children?
∙ Have your Personal Representative, Trustee or Agent moved away? or have they aged such that they would not be a good choice?
∙ Have your selections changed? Upon reconsideration, would you name others instead for your Personal Representative, Trustee or Agent?
∙ Have your assets changed substantially? Should a different allocation of assets be made to your beneficiaries and heirs? Should the gift amounts be changed?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, it is time to make an appointment to have your estate planning documents amended.