There are many reasons to review and update an estate plan.
Paying attention to expiration dates is important.
This can save you from unwittingly poisoning yourself from outdated food.
It can also ensure your medications are still potent.
Although your estate plan will not have an expiration date on your documents, it will have a shelf life.
According to a recent Forbes article titled “5 Reasons To Have Your Parents’ Estate Plan Reviewed,” you will need to review your estate plan regularly to ensure it is still effective.
What are reasons your estate plan may need to be updated?
Financial institutions can be wary of dated documents.
Old documents tend to be viewed by financial institutions and banks with a bit of suspicion.
If your agents try to use a 20-year-old power of attorney, the bank may require an affidavit from your attorney to ensure it is valid.
This can create a barrier to taking important financial actions on your behalf.
Having an updated power of attorney would have solved this issue.
Estate planning laws change.
In America, we have the opportunity to elect new representatives in our government rather frequently.
This turnover also brings with it frequent new legislation.
If you schedule an appointment with your experienced estate planning attorney to review your plan, your attorney will be able to recommend updates to your estate plan to account for changes in laws.
Legal document language changes.
The language in your trust may have been sufficient to account for legislation prior to the SECURE Act.
If your retirement accounts have been directed to your trust as the designated beneficiary, then the trust language may need to be updated to account for the changes.
Failing to make updates may cost your loved ones in estate and income taxes.
Estate tax laws change.
The federal estate tax law exemption amount has changed in recent years and is likely to change under the current federal administration before defaulting to previous levels in 2026.
It will be important to make updates to your estate plan to account for any exemption changes.
If estate taxes are unavoidable, you will need to make plans for the most efficient and tax-savvy means of paying these tax bills upon your death.
Older estate plans may contain wishes from decades ago.
You have changed over the years.
Your relationships do not look the same as they once did.
Perhaps family members have died or become estranged.
Review your estate plan to evaluate whether it still aligns with your goals and circumstances.
As is oft attributed to Heraclitus, “the only constant in life is change itself.”
Take time to meet with your estate planning attorney and keep pace with the inevitable changes impacting your estate plan.
Reference: Forbes (May 25, 2021) “5 Reasons To Have Your Parents’ Estate Plan Reviewed”