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Has your carefully drafted estate plan ever been updated?

If you're a reflective and proactive person who once worked closely with an experienced attorney to craft a well-tailored estate plan, you might now reasonably pose this question to yourself: Have I ever taken a second look at my plan to ensure that it is still timely and responsive in all particulars?

The bottom line with key legal instruments relevant to estate planning is that the passage of time can -- in fact, flatly does -- alter their significance and applicability. One national financial website noting that suggests that a planner might benefit from a fresh look at key documents "every three years and/or after major life changes."

It takes only a moment of due reflection to appreciate how dramatically things can change for individuals and families within a few short years. A once bulletproof estate plan can require material revision in the wake of seemingly countless changes occurring within a family, including these:

  • Divorce or related dislocation
  • Births and/or deaths
  • Emerging health care considerations
  • Retirement
  • Sale of a family business
  • Inheritance

On top of that, new laws are occasionally enacted that require a timely and thoughtful response from certain planning audiences.

A prime example of that, notes the above-cited publication MarketWatch, is the recent change ushered in by financial regulators that doubles the federal tax exemption for estates in California and across the country. Admittedly, the materially jacked-up amount of $22.4 million for a married couple does not apply to legions of wed partners. For those who are affected by it, though, a timely planning response can be a productive and profitable exercise.

Estate plans are like cars or homes, notes MarketWatch, in that they require periodic maintenance. A seasoned attorney with an integrated planning and tax background can help with updates and give a client peace of mind that a plan fully promotes current interests and those of future generations.

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