It is important to review your estate plans every few years to make sure that they are up-to-date with your current circumstances. Since your plans were created, you may have experienced changes in your life. These changes may not be reflected accurately in the documents that communicate your wishes to your loved ones and representatives.
These types of changes can vary greatly. Among the more common changes that occur, children or grandchildren may have been born, you may have gotten married or obtained a divorce, there may have been a death or serious illness in your family, or you may have purchased or sold an asset and want to reallocate distributions after your death. In any one of these scenarios, a review is critically important.
What Issues Should You Be Thinking About?
At the time you review your estate plans with your attorney and financial advisor, there will be many issues to discuss. The list below will cover many of these important concerns:
- Does your will accurately reflect how you wish to distribute your assets after your death?
- Are there specific gifts that you would like to make to individuals or charitable organizations?
- Have you nominated an appropriate person to serve as the executor of your will and trustee of your trust?
- Will you or have you communicated to your executor the nature of your assets and how you want them to be distributed?
- Would your goals be better served if you created a revocable trust?
- Have you named an agent who knows what your end-of-life care wishes are?
- Have you named an appropriate agent who can handle your financial affairs if you are incapacitated?
- Does your family know how you wish to have your remains disposed of after your death?
- Have you clearly identified all of your assets for your executor and trustee?
- Will you or have you told your executor and trustee where your original estate plan documents are and have you provided them with copies?
- Have you told your agent, executor, and trustee who your estate planning attorney and financial advisor are, and how to contact them?
- Does your agent know how to access your online accounts, and have you provided them the ability to access your digital assets?
What If You Have Not Addressed These Important Issues?
At the time an agent is needed to make medical decisions for you or to handle your financial affairs, it will be too late to create or revise your estate plans. You can reduce the stress on your family and friends if you clearly communicate your wishes to them and identify the tools you have put in place for them to carry out those wishes.
If you don’t remember the estate plan you created some years ago, or feel that it does not reflect your circumstances and wishes today, consult with your estate planning attorney about bringing your estate plans up to date.