Many clients look to create an Estate Plan because of a change in circumstances. Perhaps they had a child or got divorced, and often, a loss of a family member sparks a desire for planning. It is very common to hear “I just dealt with these issues with my parent’s passing, and it was a mess – I don’t want my children to have the same problem.” It’s great to be proactive, but when is the last time you looked at your will?
I recently spoke with a client who did everything right by having a comprehensive plan put together. The only problem? It was over 20 years ago. In that time, children were born, employment changed, and finances changed significantly. Having an outdated Estate Plan can be as useless as having no plan at all if it is not up to date.
- When should I update? The rule of thumb is to have your estate plan documents reviewed every three to five years. Or, if there is a major life event. Or, if you just have questions and want your documents reviewed – it’s better to know that you are well taken care of and leaving nothing to chance!
- Who can update? Any attorney well versed in Estate Planning can review your documents and provide input. It does not have to be the attorney that created your original plan. Often, such a meeting requires you to bring in your documents, your questions, and your changes. It never hurts to have a second opinion.
- Why should I update? The reason you created an estate plan to begin with was to make sure your wishes were followed, with minimal impact on your family, after you pass. Honor that intention by updating. Maybe that Last Will and Testament from the ‘70s left a portion of your estate to a religious organization you’re no longer affiliated with. Perhaps that Will named a Personal Representative that you have severed ties with. A good Estate Planning attorney will also discuss your beneficiaries on accounts that fall outside of your estate – did you remember to remove your ex from your life insurance?
- Can I afford to update? Simply, yes. A consultation for a review or having a review of existing documents is far less expensive than having an error. Let’s say you have a trust, and believe that nothing will go to probate. If the trust was not properly drafted, or was not updated to include all of your assets, then your estate may have to go through the expensive and time-consuming process of probate. The idea behind estate planning is to minimize the financial impact on your estate, and to keep it stress free.
- What can I update? Nearly everything. With the exception of some advanced planning, such as an irrevocable trust, you can update all of your documents. A Will can, and should be, updated. A Revocable Trust can, and should be, updated. Same goes for your Living Will, Healthcare Surrogate, Pre-Need Guardianship selection, Power of Attorney, etc.
With passage of time, often our best intentions become flawed. You may not know what documents you have. You may have forgotten what the documents do, or what they mean. These are all reasons to contact an attorney that specializes in Estate Planning. At Shulman Law, we offer affordable packages to create an Estate Plan, to review pre-exisiting plans, and to modify or update plans.
Shulman Law offers legal representation in Estate Planning, Succession Planning, Charitable Giving, as well as Criminal Defense Attorney services in Fort Lauderdale, Coral Ridge, Oakland Park, Wilton Manor, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Pompano Beach, Lighthouse Point, Hollywood and throughout Broward County Florida.