Time to Update Your Old Estate Planning Documents?
Many times people will ask me if they need to review their planning that they did many years ago. My answer is always the same- You should be having your estate plan reviewed every three to five years. They are often suprised that they should be doing this as often as recommended. There are three reasons why it is important to review planning frequently.
1) Your memory isn’t as good as you think it is (neither is mine). – Many times when I sit down with families and I read through their trust and read to them what their planning currently says- they are suprised that a certain child was named trustee over another, or forgot that they gave a gift of funds to a relative or charity that they no longer desire to do so. If not for the review, they would have completetly forgotten about this until it was too late (because they passed away)
2) Your health or financial situation is different than it used to be– Whether it is a positive or negative change in health or financial situation, both can have very serious effects on both your estate planning wishes, and the practicality of carrying out those wishes. In addition, there are often tax consequences that might not have been important or applicable several years ago. We also see that often while reviewing old estate plans it becomes a good time to incorporate asset protection against long term care costs before the crisis health situation hits.
3) The law is different than it used to be– There have been many major legal changes in just the last 10 years that have a very dramatic impact on estate planning. For instance, the estate tax credit is now 500% higher than it was just ten years ago. This has caused many families that needed semi-complex estate plans to no longer need the same level of sophistication. We have also seen major changes in our health care power of attorneys, and trust code all in the last 5-7 years.
The bottom line is that estate plans, while they don’t “expire” (although the makers of those plans will!), they are not designed to be a plan that you put in place and never think about again. Estate planning is important, and just your house, car, and body all need maintenance from time to time, so does your estate plan.