If you already have an estate plan, that’s great! Whether you have a will or a living trust, you’ve taken steps to ensure your assets are distributed smoothly. Although that first step is admirable, many people don’t realize that creating an estate plan is not the end.
Once your decisions are made and documents are in order, they are amazing resources! For a while. But there’s a shelf life to these plans.
It may help to think of your will as a first aid kit: once it’s put together it’s ready to handle an emergency! And it stays ready to handle an emergency for a while! But the remedies inside start to expire, bandages get stiff, and adhesives lose their stick. Although you may keep the same first aid kit, you’ll need to rifle through it and replace the items that can’t help anymore with new ones, and add things that are missing. Because you when the you need the kit, it’s all got to work!
Some things that may influence the effectiveness of your will to provide proper structure:
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Laws May Have Changed
The plans you made were probably the perfect way to handle tax liability, inheritance laws, real estate transfer laws, and anything else that applied when you wrote it. As time goes by, though, every year small changes happen. The ways you’ve planned to handle assets may either not make good financial sense anymore, or they may not even be options due to legal changes.
Your Family May Have Changed
If you’ve named beneficiaries, as most people have, then it effects your will if anyone important to you has passed away, married, divorced, or if any babies were born into the family. Without your guidance, your estate executor won’t know how you want this handled, and their decisions may cause strife.
Your Assets May Have Changed
Have you accounted for what happens to the new properties or funds that have come into your life since your last estate planning review? Real estate especially can become a sticky situation to distribute when no clear plans are in order. You also may need to change you will because you no longer have assets you used to.
Your Wishes May Have Changed
In the event that you’ve had a falling out, fallen in love, or had other relationship changes, plans may need to be updated to reflect that. There are few things as hurtful to families as seeing someone forgotten or the wrong person inheriting an estate.
Common advice recommends reviewing your will every 5 years. It’s unwise to wait that long if any of the above factors aren’t what they were last time you verified that your plans were current. The uncertainty caused by an outdated will is a common setting for litigation and unrest, and is completely avoidable.
Contact Lewman Law today to get help reviewing and updating your will.