This year, Estate Planning Awareness Week runs from October 17th to 23rd, and one of our primary goals is to educate you on the vital importance of not only preparing an estate plan, but also keeping your plan up-to-date. While you almost surely understand the importance of creating an estate plan, you may not know that keeping your plan current is every bit as important as creating a plan to begin with.
In fact, outside of not creating any estate plan at all, outdated estate plans are one of the most common estate planning mistakes we encounter. We’ll get called by the loved ones of someone who has become incapacitated or died with a plan that no longer works because it was not properly updated. Unfortunately, once something happens, it’s too late to adjust your plan, and the loved ones you leave behind will be stuck with the mess you’ve left, or they could end up in a costly and traumatic court process that can drag out for months or even years.
Estate planning is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done type of deal. To ensure your plan works properly, it should continuously evolve along with your life circumstances and other changing conditions. Regardless of who you are, your life will inevitably change: families change, assets change, laws change, and goals change.
In the absence of any major life events, we recommend reviewing your estate plan annually. However, there are several common life events that require you to immediately update your plan—that is, if you want it to actually work and keep your family out of court and out of conflict. To this end, if any of the following events occur in your life, contact us, your Personal Family Lawyer® right away to amend your estate plan.
1) You Get Married.
2) You Get Divorced.
3) You Give Birth Or Adopt.
4) You Have A Minor Child Reach Adulthood.
5) A Loved One Dies.
6) You Get Seriously Ill Or Injured.
7) You Move To A New State.
8) Your Assets Or Liabilities Change Significantly.
9) You Buy Or Sell A Business
10) The Federal Estate-Tax Exemption Or Your State’s Estate-Tax Exemption Changes Significantly.
Keeping your estate plan updated is so important that we’ve created proprietary systems designed to ensure your plan is revisited consistently, so you don’t need to worry about overlooking anything, as your family, the law, and your assets change over time. Be sure to ask us about these systems during your visit.
Furthermore, because your plan is designed to protect and provide for your loved ones in the event of your death or incapacity, us, as your local Personal Family Lawyer® isn’t just here to serve you—we’re here to serve your entire family. Over the years, we’ll take the time to get to know your family members and include them in the planning process, so everyone affected by your plan is well-aware of what your latest planning strategies are and why you made the choices you did, along with knowing exactly what they need to do if something happens to you. And if you are the parent of minor children, we will put safeguards in place to ensure that your kids are never placed into the care of strangers, even temporarily.
As a Personal Family Lawyer® firm, our estate planning services go far beyond simply creating documents and then never seeing you again. In fact, we will develop a relationship with you and your family that lasts not only for your lifetime, but for the lifetime of your children and their children, if that’s your wish.
Unlike traditional estate plans, a Life & Legacy Plan is designed to grow and change with you. Us, as your local Personal Family Lawyer® makes that possible. We aren’t just a one-time document creator; we are your trusted, lifelong counsel and guide, who works with you to ensure your family stays out of court and out of conflict and grows even closer as a result of the legacy you’re creating.
Ultimately, we’ve discovered that estate planning is about far more than planning for your death and passing on your “estate” to your loved ones—it’s about planning for a life you love and a legacy worth leaving by the choices you make today. And this is why we call our services Life & Legacy Planning. Call us, at Legacy Law to get your plan started today.
This article is a service of Bethany Gilson Casey, Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.