It’s Been A While: Have Your Estate Planning Documents Been Reviewed?

You have all of your estate planning documents in place, including a Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy. You have done what everyone says is recommended. However, as time passes and things change, you may want to update these documents. So under what circumstances should you have these documents reviewed and what should you look out for?

The following is a summary of events that should prompt you to re-visit your estate-planning documents:

Family Events:
1. You get married.
2. Your child gets married.
3. You have a new child. You may want to name Guardians for your children.
4. You have a new grandchild.
5. You get divorced.
6. A family member becomes disabled.
7. A family member dies. Updates are especially necessary if the deceased family member is named as your Executor, Power of Attorney or other similar position.

Asset Events:
1. You receive an inheritance.
2. You buy a home.
3. You sell your home.
4. Your estate grows and tax issues arise. The taxes to be reviewed include estate taxes, income taxes, gift taxes or capital gains taxes.
5. Your beneficiary designations are no longer current. This can include beneficiaries on your IRAs, pension plans, 401k plans, insurance policies and annuities.

Relationship Changes:
1. The nominated Guardian for your children is no longer appropriate.
2. The nominated Executor is no longer appropriate.
3. Your children are older, are more mature and can now be named as Executor.
4. Your children are not as mature as you would like and you would like to defer some of their shares.
5. You are getting more charitable and want to add new bequests.
6. People have moved away. You may want to name health care decisions makers who live near to you.
7. You move to a new state.

Reviewing your estate planning documents is important, and this is not a comprehensive list. There may be other events that would require some changes in these documents. As a result, it is a good idea to review your estate planning documents regularly. Hopefully, this may prompt you to look at the documents that have been sitting in a drawer for the past few years and update them, as your situation changes.

JeffreyThis article is intended as a general discussion of these issues only and is not to be considered legal advice or relied upon. For more information, please contact Jeffrey Blankstein who counsels clients on estate and retirement planning, individual taxation, real estate and litigation. Mr. Blankstein is admitted to practice law in New York. Attorney Advertising.