Even the healthiest person needs a periodic medical checkup. Similarly, even the best estate plan needs periodic review. Even if you are in peak health today, a few years later some things may have changed that require a revisiting of your treatment plan. Maybe your blood pressure needs medication. Maybe you have high cholesterol, which is capable of being controlled with adjustments to diet or medication.
Like your health, your estate plan needs a periodic checkup. Here are some factors which might lead to a change in your estate plan.
- Changes in the Law
In health, the laws of physics and chemistry do not change. However, changes in the law, both small and large, may have a large impact on your estate plan. For example, tax laws change frequently and your plan may need to be revised to minimize your tax liability. Non-tax laws also change periodically, opening the doors to new opportunities that were not available when your estate plan was drafted.
- Changes in Your Life
Just as with your health, circumstances change. Maybe you had changes in your family circumstances, like marriage, divorce, or the birth of children or grandchildren. Perhaps someone in your family has had health or financial changes that should be reflected in your plan.
- Changes in Desires
Even if there are no changes in the law or your life, sometimes we simply change our minds. As we age, hopefully we gain wisdom and experience. Sometimes that leads us to change our estate plan. For example, if a close friend of yours goes through a messy divorce, you may be more inclined to leave assets for your children in a trust that provides protection in the (hopefully unlikely) event of their divorce.
If you already have an estate plan in place, be sure to schedule an appointment with your estate planning attorney for a periodic review. There may be new factors and laws to consider of which you are unaware. And, just as with your health, if you notice important changes in circumstances, you should be sure to schedule that review sooner, rather than later.
If you are just starting out and do not have an estate plan, or you have moved to a new state, be sure to find a qualified estate planning attorney, who focuses his or her practice in estate planning.