Life is not Static and Your Estate Plan Shouldn’t be Either.

You just bought a new car. Do you let is sit for years without periodic service or maintenance? You have a new child. Do you ignore her medical care and education until she leaves home? Of course not!

Similarly, if you have had the foresight to establish an estate plan it should receive periodic attention and review. I advise my clients to come in for a review whenever their circumstances change materially or at least, once every three years.

What does this review involve?

  • You want to be sure that your plan (trust and/or will) correctly reflects your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets.
  • You want to be sure that your distribution plan for your spouse is up to date.
  • You want to be sure that distributions for your children are properly reflected based on their current ages – outright distributions or continuing trusts?
  • Do you have disabled beneficiaries who need special or supplemental needs trusts?
  • Are your named trustees and personal representatives (executors) still ready, willing and able to serve, or is a fiduciary update needed?
  • Are your current financial and health care powers of attorney still relevant or should they be updated based on your current finances and health?

MOST IMPORTANTLY: A trust is an empty vessel until it has been funded with your assets. Assets change periodically so you must ensure that your current assets are titled in the name of your trust so that when you die, your estate avoids probate and your assets can be quickly, privately and efficiently transferred to your designated beneficiaries.

The SECURE Act which became effective at the beginning of 2020 changes how required minimum distributions can be stretched out, so you need to be sure that your estate plan takes those changes into account.

When I handed a recent client of mine his fully-executed estate plan he said, “Now I can just put it in a drawer and let it sit there until I die.” I immediately corrected him because an estate plan should never be relegated to cold storage. Your life is dynamic so your estate plan should be ever changing based on the changes in your life.