Do You Need To Update Your Estate Plan? Probably.
It’s unrealistic to think that a piece of paper you draft, reflecting your life at a certain time, will work when your life has completely changed some years later.
Here's an example: Meet Joe and Mary Miller. They had their first estate plan done when their daughter, Julie was born 30 years ago. They updated it when their son Sam came along 4 years later. Then ten years ago, they got a trust-based plan in place, protecting themselves, their children, grandchildren, and dog, Snickers. Unfortunately, the Millers didn’t join our client maintenance program; instead, they elected to take on the responsibility of calling for updates themselves. Life got busy and, as you might guess, that didn’t happen. Here’s what’s changed in their lives in the last 10 years. Julie and Sam are now adults and through college.
Julie has married and now had two daughters. One of the girls may have autism.
Sam is also married and is expecting his first child.
Mary’s mother is now living with them.
They bought a vacation home in South Carolina.
Question: Do you think the Millers estate plan will still work the way they want it to?
The Millers have experienced a lot of changes, but those changes are typical of what 10 years brings. Think about the changes in your life over the past 10 years – or – since you last updated your estate plan. Have you moved? Do you have more children or grandchildren? Have you started a business, suffered health problems, or purchased a new home? Do you have new accounts and investments? Do you now care for a parent, pets, or dependent children? Have you remarried, gotten divorced, or retired? Has someone you loved died? Have friends named in your plan as trusted helpers moved away or has your relationship changed? Are your children now adults and able to help you? Do you want to help with grandchildren’s college or dance lessons? Is there a charity important in your life?
Many things have happened in the past 10 years. Your estate plan needs to reflect the changes in your personal life, financial situation, and goals. There have also been changes in the law and we continuously learn to protect our clients in better ways.