The beginning of the year is a great time to set goals for making improvements. Eating healthy and working out are good resolutions to make. Cleaning up around the house, getting organized, and sticking to a budget are often top of the list, too. But you should also resolve to make sure your estate plan is up to date. The good news is—holiday meals and office sheet cake aren’t going to derail you from sticking to this goal.
Estate planning documents—wills, trusts, and powers of attorney—are created with a goal that you may never have to change them or get new documents. These documents do not grow stale or become invalid after a certain number of years. Changes in your life, however, may necessitate amending your plan from time to time.
Babies are born, children grow up, and people pass away. People get married, get divorced, or move away. Long-term care may not have been a big deal to you when you set up your plan, but it might concern you now. Situations change and, as you become older, your estate planning goals may change as well. All these factors can greatly influence whether your plan continues to meet your goals. There’s little point to having a plan if it doesn’t get you where you want to be.
It’s a good idea to review your estate planning documents every few years to make sure everything is still the way you want it to be. Are the people you’ve named to act for you as your financial and healthcare power of attorney still around and appropriate? Is the person you’ve designated to wrap up your affairs after you die still a good choice? Are your assets going to be distributed to the people you now want to receive them in the way you want them to get there?
Lastly—and very importantly—it’s critical to make sure assets you’ve acquired since your estate plan was created are set up to be distributed the right way. This is often overlooked. Did you buy new real estate that needs to be added to your trust? Did you change banks or open a new financial account that may need adjusted beneficiary designations? Even if you have the most perfectly drafted trust, it will not keep your entire estate out of probate if an asset is still in your name when you die.
This is important, and there’s no time like the new year to give it your attention. If you have questions or need help, The Elrod Firm is willing and able to review you plan with you to ask the right questions and offer up advice based on years of experience in planning. Call today to schedule a free consultation, and head into the new year with confidence.