An estate plan contains critical legal documents, but it is not something that remains top of mind for most people. Once you have worked with a lawyer to set one up, it is important to revisit it periodically. A good time to do so can be after a major life event, such as:
- Real estate purchase
- Birth or adoption of a child
- Starting a business
- Wealth accumulation
As a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ from a firm like the Law offices of Joshua Kaplan can explain, any of these events can trigger changes to how the original documents were laid out. When you review your estate plan, here is a checklist of items to evaluate:
Is the person you appointed to settle your estate still involved in your life? It is a good idea to have a brief conversation with them to remind them of their role, confirm they are still agreeable, and communicate any changes you have made.
Medical Power of Attorney
Your medical power of attorney may be the same person as your executor. Briefly discuss your wishes with them regarding medical care should you become incapacitated and confirm they understand and agree.
Many accounts allow you to designate a beneficiary. Keep a list of those accounts and make sure the beneficiary is up to date. Typically, you can view and make changes to this information online.
Estate Law Changes
Consult your lawyer to see if revisions need to be made based on federal or state law changes. If you have recently moved to a new state, you may need to contact a new lawyer familiar with local laws.
Over time, you may change your involvement with organizations or non-profits. Make sure the gift recipients you have designated are still meaningful to you and that gift laws have not changed. You may have added additional family members to include, such as grandchildren.
If you do not have a trust setup, it might be wise to consider one if your situation has drastically changed. If you do have one, review the chosen trustees and successors.
It is a good idea to ensure that every person who has a role in settling your estate has a copy of the will and knows where the original is located. If you have any questions or concerning the current state of your plan, contact your estate planning lawyer. Communicate any changes to family or friends. Once you feel comfortable, put it away and mark your calendar to revisit it in a year or two.