If you don’t remember the last time that your estate plan and related documents were reviewed, that’s a clear signal that you should put this task on your to-do list and on your estate planning attorney’s appointment calendar.
Reviewing an estate plan is kind of like going to the doctor for an annual physical. Everyone knows that they should do this. However, many simply don’t do it. Just as good health requires ongoing maintenance, including an annual physical, so does your estate plan.
WMUR’s recent article, “Money Matters: Reviewing your estate plan,” says a common question is “When should I review my documents?”
Every few years is the quick answer, but a change in your life may also necessitate a review. Major life events can be related to a marriage, divorce, or death in the family; a substantial change in estate size; a move to another state and/or acquisition of property in another state; the death of an executor, trustee or guardian; the birth or adoption of children or grandchildren; retirement; and a significant change in health, to name just a handful.
When you conduct your review, consider these questions:
- Does anyone in your family have special needs?
- Do you have any children from a previous marriage?
- Is your choice of executor, guardian, or trustee still okay?
- Do you have a valid living will, durable power of attorney for health care, or a do-not-resuscitate to manage your health care, if you’re not able to do so?
- Do you need to plan for Medicaid?
- Are your beneficiary designations up to date on your retirement plans, annuities, payable-on-death bank accounts, and life insurance?
- Do you have charitable intentions and if so, are they mentioned in your documents?
- Do you own sufficient life insurance?
In addition, review your digital presence and take the necessary efforts to protect your online information, after your death or if you’re no longer able to act.
Sometimes, reviewing an estate plan prompts changes to your plan. You may decide to make some gifts with “warm hands,” while you are still living, to loved ones or to charitable organizations. This is the time to consider the bigger picture, including your legacy. It’s a good habit to get into, just like getting an annual physical.
Reference: WMUR (January 24, 2019) “Money Matters: Reviewing your estate plan”