Updating an estate plan is a forgotten necessity for New Yorkers

by | Dec 6, 2018 | Estate Planning |

New Yorkers should be fully aware of the importance of drafting estate planning documents. There are a seeming endless number of reasons why this is a good idea. Often, however, people who have an estate plan will not update it as needed. Simply having the estate plan is rarely enough. Knowing when and why it is essential to update the plan can avoid long-term problems and regret.

There is no specific time at which a person must revise and update their estate plan. But certain events or situations are obvious tipping points to do so. If a person leaves one state and moves to another, it is wise to remember that estate laws can vary depending on the state. So, if a person is moving to New York, having a law firm that is based in New York and understands all the different variables with an estate plan can ensure that it fits into state laws. Even if the person is not moving to another state permanently, but is getting a second residence, it remains important to account for that in the estate plan.

When family circumstances change, so too should the estate plan. This is frequently due to a newborn child or grandchild, but there could be other cases when it is necessary. It does not always need to be a positive development to spark a change to the estate plan. For example, a person who was listed might have died or there could have been a divorce. A falling out or concerns over a person’s behavior and lifestyle could justify a change to the estate plan.

Assets and liabilities are rarely static. Perhaps there was a significant gain in the person’s portfolio or they ran into some financial trouble. Property could be sold and no longer warrant being in the plan. As these changes come about, so too must the estate plan change. Retirement plans might no longer be up-to-date. An estate plan and the person named on it could be different from a beneficiary on a retirement plan and this can cause issues. It is important to change both to be in sync. Finally, a trustee or executor could no longer be the right person for the job. That too must be adjusted.

A fundamental mistake people make with their estate plan is to complete it and then leave it as is as life moves on. Change is inevitable and it is therefore vital to periodically review the estate plan and update it as required. An estate planning law firm can help with creating and updating the document and it is key to act as soon as possible to make sure the document suits the person’s needs.