It’s easy to forget about your estate plan once all the documents have been drawn up and signed. After all, the work has been done and everything’s taken care of, right? Not necessarily. It’s essential to review your estate plan periodically to make sure that it still accomplishes what you need it to.
Changes in your life circumstances can cause new and unintended consequences for your estate plan. For instance, because the laws governing estate planning vary from state to state, moving can mean that certain parts of your estate plan are no longer valid. If you move to a new state, it’s wise to check with an estate planning lawyer in your new locale to make sure that your estate plan does not need to be updated. Other life changes that might call for an update to your estate plan include:
- The birth or adoption of a child
- Getting married or divorced
- Buying or selling a business
- Buying out-of-state property
- Inheriting money or property
In addition to changes in your personal circumstances, alterations to the law can have an impact on your estate plan. The federal estate tax law is a prime example: the tax has been repealed for the year 2010, but is scheduled to return in 2011, and no one is sure what Congress will actually do about the estate tax.
This is why it’s important to work with your attorney to keep your plan up-to-date. He or she can keep you informed of changes in the law that could undermine your estate planning goals. Your attorney can also keep you updated on emerging estate planning strategies that could benefit you and your loved ones.
If your estate planning lawyers offers an estate plan maintenance program, it’s a good idea to participate. This way, the pressure is off you to remember to review your plan – your attorney’s office will contact you periodically to go over your plan and make sure that no changes need to be made. If your attorney does not offer this type of program, then you should make it a habit to go over your plan at least every couple of years to make sure that it still accomplishes your goals.