An estate plan is more than just a Last Will & Testament. It also includes a Durable Power of Attorney, a Designation of Health Care Surrogate or Health Care Power of Attorney, a Living Will, and often a Trust, a Pre-need Designation of a Guardian for a Minor Child or a Pre-need Designation of a Guardian or Conservator for an Adult. Creating an estate plan can be an enormously emotional event in your life. The estate planning process makes you confront your death, potential incapacity, end of life decisions, and how you communicate with your family about these decisions. When you get through the estate planning process, you could feel relief and believe it is behind you, so you no longer have to deal with it. Based on that belief, you may place the well-written, signed documents in a safe deposit box and forget about them.
However, an estate plan is a living arrangement and is only effective if it addresses the current circumstances of the individual to whom it applies. An estate plan created several years ago may no longer fit apply to an individual’s circumstances. Over time laws change, which can render some estate planning documents less effective. Individuals move between states more often so an estate plan done in one state may not apply in the same way it did in the state in which it was created. And over time an individual’s family composition also changes, which can mean that an estate plan may no longer apply to the entire family.
To ensure an estate plan continues to meet the needs of your, it should be reviewed with an attorney every time there is a major life changing event, including:
- The birth of a child or grandchild
- A move between states or a move of more than two hundred and fifty miles within a state
- The death of a spouse
- The death of a parent or sibling
- A child reaching the age of majority
- Marriages or divorces involving an adult children
- A child or grandchild being diagnosed with a disability
- A diagnosis of a catastrophic or chronic illness, or
- A milestone birthday such as the 50th, 60th, 70th
When was the last time you reviewed your estate plan?