So, you did a will, trust, or even a full estate plan. Great! Is it fully funded? Do you understand what that means? Have your financial circumstances changed such that your assets are different today than they were five years ago when you did your will? If you have not also changed your will (or trust) to adjust for these changes, your family could pay the price.
The Three to Five Year Rule
We recommend that you have your estate plan (will, trust, living will, power of attorney, etc.) reviewed every three to five years. Unless you are more diligent than most of us, you are probably leaving things out of your estate plan if you do not have your plan reviewed regularly.
. . . . Or Sooner
There are many reasons you may need to make changes to your estate plan. Here are a few:
- You may no longer desire to distribute your assets to the same people or in the same amount as you originally designed. Perhaps your asset base changed or theirs did (they are no longer minors, but graduated college and are working now), or you no longer have a great relationship with that person.
- If you moved to a new state, you will certainly want to have your estate plan reviewed, as your new state’s laws may alter the best way for you to transfer your assets upon your death, or the best way for you to protect yourself with a living will, etc.
- Like others, you have experienced a significant increase or decrease in amount of your assets in this crazy economy. Or, purchased or sold real estate, a business, vehicle, or other significant asset that was listed in your estate. How do you want your new asset(s) distributed in the event of your death?
- If an intended beneficiary or trustee died, you will want to change your distribution or designate a replacement trustee. Likewise, if your family has been blessed with new additions, you may want to provide for distribution to these new intended beneficiaries. If you have been through a divorce or marriage (or an intended beneficiary has), you may need to change distribution designations.
- If you change your mind regarding whether you desire life sustaining procedures to prolong your life, you will certainly want to update your living will and/or your durable power of attorney for health care.
Of course, you may not know about any changes in the laws regarding your estate. For these and many other good reasons, it is wise to have your estate plan reviewed every three to five years to make certain your desires are both known and followed.