Creating an estate plan is essential for every adult; however, do not make the mistake of stopping once you have a plan in place. To ensure that your plan works as intended, your estate plan needs to be reviewed and revised from time to time. Outdated estate planning documents can wreak havoc on your estate plan and lead to unintended consequences. At Stivers Law, our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you review your current estate plan and make any necessary revisions, additions, or deletions to your plan documents.
Outdated Documents and Unintended Consequences
When your estate plan works as intended it can ensure that your estate assets are distributed according to your wishes after death, protect your assets while you are alive, and plan for the possibility of incapacity. Your estate plan documents need to be current, however, for them to accomplish these goals. Outdated documents, on the other hand, can cause more problems than they solve. Common documents in your estate plan that might be out of date include:
- Last Will and Testament. If your Will is not up to date, people you do not want to inherit from your estate (such as an ex-spouse) may inherit while people you want to provide for (recent family additions) will receive nothing. Assets might also be left out of your Will entirely, resulting in the need to probate an intestate estate.
- Trust Agreement. If the Trustee you appointed in a trust agreement is no longer able or willing to serve, and you did not update the trust accordingly, someone not of your choosing could be appointed to manage the trust assets in the event of your death or incapacity.
- Life Insurance Policies and Retirement Accounts. Failing to review and revise a life insurance policy or retirement account after a divorce often leads to assets being distributed to an ex-spouse.
- Advanced Directive. Advance directives allow you to make decisions regarding end-of-life medical treatment as well as choose who will make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them. An outdated advance directive could result in your wishes being ignored or the wrong person making healthcare decisions for you.
- Power of Attorney. An outdated Power of Attorney can leave someone with the authority to control your assets long after you intended that authority to end.
How Do I Know If My Estate Planning Documents Are Outdated?
The best way to make sure your estate planning documents are not outdated is to conduct a routine review of your entire estate plan every few years. There are also events that may occur during your life that should trigger a more immediate update of estate planning documents, such as:
- Divorce or death of a spouse
- Birth of a child
- Youngest child reaching adulthood
- Move to another state
- Reach retirement age
- Significant change in your assets
- Death of a beneficiary
- Death of a fiduciary, such as your Executor or a Trustee
- Serious illness
The estate planning attorneys at Stivers Law can help ensure that your estate planning documents are not outdated by scheduling a routine review or making immediate updates when necessary. Contact our office today by calling (305) 456-3255 or filling out our online contact form.