New Yorkers who have created an estate plan should not sit back while time passes without making changes to that plan. While this might seem to be an arduous chore, it is a key part of having estate planning documents that address all issues. Fortunately, estate planning documents can be changed as the need arises. Recognizing the gaps is the first step toward filling them.
Some people forget to update and review major components of their estate plan. This includes the financial power of attorney and advanced medical directives. For example, if the person is healthy at the time the documents are drafted and later experiences a health issue, that is a good time to check the estate plan and update it accordingly.
The beneficiaries and executors who were named at the time of the drafting could change. There could be new additions to a family, issues could arise between relatives, people could die – these are all justifications to alter the beneficiaries. Naming an executor to a will is imperative. The person named could suddenly be unable to fulfill the duties or could have passed away. If that occurs, the court will name a new executor if the testator has died without changing it..
The Trump Administration has made substantive changes to the tax code and the estate tax. For people who have substantial assets, this could mean they will want to adjust their estate plan to maximize the benefit. Finally, people might have moved from one location to another. The laws can be different in different states, so the estate plan might not address the new location as well as it did in the prior location.
Having legal assistance with estate planning is not just crucial when creating the plan, but also when periodically analyzing it and making changes as needed. Having an attorney who is experienced in strategies and updating an estate plan should be a priority.
Source: Kiplinger, “8 Signs Your Estate Plan May Be Worthless,” Casey Robinson, March 15, 2018