When you had your will drafted years ago, you might have thought it could sit in your file cabinet until that fateful day when it was needed and everything would work out just fine. That might be true, but the reality is that things change, and the estate plan you set up in your 30s might not be what you need in your 50s or beyond. So maybe it’s time to blow the dust off and take a look at your documents to see if they need a tune up.
Change is the law of life. We have children, we get divorced, we strike it rich or lose fortunes. If any of the following life events have happened in your life, or you anticipate them happening in the future, it’s probably time to have your plan reviewed to ensure it’s still right for your situation.
• Birth of a child or adult children have moved away
• Divorce, separation, or death of a spouse
• Second marriage
• Major financial changes (e.g., windfall, bankruptcy, etc.)
• You are 55 or older and considering long-term care
• Purchase or sale of major assets (e.g., real estate, etc.)
Filling in the gaps
For some, an estate plan is a piecemeal effort over the course of many years. You may have started with just a will or living trust, then added a power of attorney later, and then had to execute a living will before that dreaded back surgery a few years ago. Now you’ve got a mishmash of documents that may or may not align with each other and probably don’t form a cohesive plan. If this sounds familiar, a review of your plan is in order, so that the appropriate documents can be added to fill in the gaps or perhaps be reworked so they match your current circumstances.
Your plan may be obsolete
Chances are, if it’s been more than ten years since you drafted your comprehensive estate plan, either your circumstances or the laws have changed. Your documents may have been drafted in a way that accommodates such changes, but it’s also possible they were not. If you’re not sure, a review by a qualified attorney might be in order, if for nothing more than to give you peace of mind.