One of the biggest questions we as estate planners get asked is: “When should you update your estate plan?” Now, this question does assume that you already have an estate plan in place. If you have not yet established an estate plan, it is time to get one. Generally, everyone, even those with a modest level of wealth, should have an estate plan, including a last will and testament and powers of attorney.
For those who have a previously established estate plan, the answer to the question of when your estate plan should be updated can be answered by the BCK Five and Five Rule.
- Every Five Years – Your estate plan needs to be reviewed and revised from time to time to keep up with your changing life. Even if you do not contemplate making any changes to your plan, we encourage our clients to visit with us at least every five years to update your financial and health care powers of attorney, review your plan, and discuss previous and potential upcoming changes in the law.
- Five Major Life Events — You should review and update your estate plan whenever any of these five major life events occur:
- A change in assets, such as a substantial change in net worth or how you title your assets;
- A change in family status of anyone involved in your plan, such as marriage, divorce, adoption or legal separation;
- A change in the relationship you have with nominated fiduciaries, such as agents, trustees, and personal representatives (or beneficiaries under your plan);
- A change in location for you, your beneficiaries or nominated fiduciaries; or
- An illness, incapacity, or life-or-death event; including the incapacity or death of anyone involved in your plan or birth of someone you wish to include in your plan and, most importantly, upon the death of you or your spouse.
Meeting with us to go over your estate plan in these situations is not only important for answering your questions and ensuring your estate planning goals are met. Many times, there are legal steps that need to be taken promptly after one of these major life events has occurred. For example, if you or your spouse should become sick or incapacitated, then it is important to ensure the primary and successor fiduciary appointments under your documents are brought current. Furthermore, if your spouse has passed away, it is important to determine the value of your assets and discuss the proper administration of your plan, including providing required legal notices to beneficiaries and funding of various bequests set forth in the will or trust.
Overall, while it is important to get your estate plan in place, it is equally important to periodically revisit the terms of your estate to ensure that it remains current and to ensure it is properly administered. We at BCK are happy to meet with both new and current clients to either establish an estate plan or discuss updates to their existing plans.
To discuss any of the above and your specific estate plan, please contact us at 480-951-8044 or visit our Contact Us page.