Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How Often Should I Review My Estate Plan?


Estate plans are not like inscriptions etched in stones, which cannot be changed, once placed on a marker.  It should actually be like a piece of legislation.  It may last in effect for quite some time; but should be amended when circumstances warrant that it be changed. 

                Many people think that once they have made an estate plan, they can forget about it.  After all, they’ve made a plan.  Nothing can be further  from the  truth. An estate plan should be updated as soon as significant changes that take place in our life.  These changes may include: your getting married (or divorced), your having a child (or a grandchild), your acquisition of a big amount of assets, your health deteriorating, your child getting married, your child or your spouse experiencing financial difficulty, etc.

                In other words,  when there are changes in your financial situation or with the people you love or care for.  When you get married or have a child, for example, you have new people you may be listing as heirs once you pass away.  When you made your initial estate plan as a single person your heirs may have been different. Your new status (as a married person or a parent) should be reflected in your updated estate plan.  Your new spouse (and child) must be named in your new plan. You have to do this so that they will receive the correct share of the inheritance you want them to receive if anything should happen to you. 

                You have to make the amendment as soon as the event takes place.  For example, as soon as you are officially wed to your spouse, then set an appointment with your estate planning attorney so that you can make the appropriate changes.  Now, the reason for the urgency of amending your estate plan is precisely because your own situation cannot be predicted.  You do not know when you will pass away or even if your health will deteriorate to the point of  rendering you unable to make decisions.   

                Remember:  you made your Estate Plan precisely for your peace of mind and to give your loved ones and your assets protection, even after you pass away or are incapacitated.  And since you do not know when these events may happen, it is imperative that you update your will – as often as you experience a significant change in your life.