So, you have an estate plan that was created many years ago. Maybe you know where the documents are, or maybe you aren’t sure. But, what you do know is that many things have changed in your life since you first setup your plan. In this blog we discuss the importance of having an estate plan that reflects your current life circumstances while also planning for the future.
It is very common to procrastinate when it comes to setting up an estate plan or updating an existing plan. But, if you have experienced the challenges that come with caring for an ill loved one or the challenges of managing the affairs for a loved one who has passed away, you likely realize that one of the best gifts you can give your family is a well considered estate plan.
For an estate plan to be well considered, it should present as a straightforward, clear directive to those who are most important in your life. As we deal with the current events forced upon our society by the COVID-19 virus it is a good time to make sure our planning is up to date and is not outdated.
As life passes and events happen such as the birth of children and grandchildren, divorce, the loss of friends and loved ones, the acquisition or loss of property, your plan should be updated to reflect these changes, or your existing plan could lead to unintended consequences. Many may not realize that significant corrections can often be made with only a few minor adjustments to your existing plan. In this circumstance, one of Benjamin Franklin’s famous quotes is truly appropriate. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
An estate plan should assist you in both managing your affairs during your lifetime as well as managing your affairs after you pass. Through the use of simple planning tools such as a durable power of attorney and a health care directive you can control both how and who will pay your bills and how and who will manage your assets and assist you in making critical medical decisions. However, it is important that after you have these estate planning documents in place that they be reviewed annually to determine if they still reflect your life circumstances and wishes. Ask your self these simple questions: “Is the right person in charge of my affairs?”; “Do I have a suitable successor identified in my documents to manage my affairs should my first choice be unable to fulfill her duties?”; “Do my estate planning documents give clear directives to distribute my assets in accordance with my current wishes?”. If you have answered in the negative to any of these questions, your estate planning should be updated. Failure to update them could result in an obsolete document or worse, including an action in the local probate court for the appointment of a court supervised guardian and conservator or a contested action regarding the division of your estate. However, with the assistance of legal counsel, simple adjustments or amendments to these documents can prevent this from occurring and will put your mind at ease.
The same applies to planning for your funeral services and the distribution of assets through a revocable living trust,will or advance directive. Through the use of simple restatements or codicils, as drafted by your estate planning attorney, your previously drafted documents can be amended to reflect your current circumstances and wishes, often without the need for a complete redrafting of your current plan.
If you have an estate plan that has not been updated or have yet to create a plan, now more than ever is the time you should take steps to solidify your plan. Please contact the Bellon Law Group today for a free consultation regarding your specific situation and the creation of your estate plan or the amendment of your existing plan.