Why update your estate plan? Your estate plan is one of the most important sets of documents you will ever sign. And it’s usually more than a Will. Most people also have a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a HIPAA authorization, and a Directive to Physicians. But preparing these documents is not a one-and-done situation.
It’s critical to update your estate plan regularly. If you need assistance with an estate plan, one of our experienced estate planning attorneys can help. And we are giving you five compelling reasons to do just that.
#1. It’s been more than a year since you signed your documents.
Many people put their signed estate planning documents in a drawer and forget them until they need them. But giving your estate planning documents a healthy once over every year helps you stay on track.
For example, Sally signed all her estate planning documents ten years ago. She assumed they were still effective. But then she unexpectedly became incapacitated after a serious car accident. Only then did her family learn that some provisions in her estate plan no longer complied with state law.
Your Texas estate planning attorney will know about these laws and how they apply to your unique situation. You won’t always need to update your estate plan every year. However, at least review your documents to make sure they still work.
#2. Update your estate plan if your marital status has changed.
Being married, divorced, or widowed generally affects how your estate is handled. Anytime your status changes, it’s important to update your estate plan.
For instance, Jake and his wife Beth were divorced several years ago. However, Jake never changed his estate planning documents. State laws might protect his estate from going to his ex-wife. But his medical power of attorney still lists his now-estranged brother-in-law as the person to make medical decisions for him.
Any change in marital status necessitates at least a review and possibly an update of your estate plan.
#3. Your estate plan might change if you added or lost family members.
The birth or adoption of a new child is a joyful occasion. But it’s also one that should be followed by a re-evaluation of your estate plan. Likewise, losing a family member through divorce, death, or estrangement could trigger some modifications to your plan.
As an example, let’s consider the Johnson family. Paul and Mary had three children and several grandchildren. As the family grew, Paul and Mary adjusted how their estate would be distributed upon their deaths. Then one of their children went through a nasty divorce, and they also became estranged from one of their grandchildren. At the time, Paul and Mary didn’t consider making any alterations to their estate plan. But failing to modify their plans could cause their estate to be distributed in ways that don’t honor their last wishes.
Your estate planning lawyer can review your current plans and help you know how to update your plan accordingly.
#4. If your net worth changed, you might need to update your plan.
Hopefully, your net worth went up. But that’s not always the case, especially in difficult economic times. Your estate planning might change whether you have more wealth or less.
People with higher value estates might find they need to add trusts or use tax reduction strategies. Trusts can also prevent an irresponsible heir from squandering their inheritance.
In Sarah N.’s case, her company’s success significantly increased her net worth. She wanted her children to receive the bulk of her fortune but worried about how they would handle it. Sarah didn’t need trusts or tax strategies before her success. However, she likely needs to update her estate plan now.
An estate planning attorney knows the tools that will help you achieve your estate planning goals.
#5. You care about your family’s future.
We won’t use a hypothetical example here. Instead, we would like you to ask yourself these questions:
· Would I like my family to get their inheritance with a minimum of fuss?
· Do I want to save my family from the stress and expense of getting a court-ordered guardian to handle my financial affairs?
· Would I like my family to know exactly what to tell the doctors about my end-of-life treatment choices?
· Will my jointly-owned property and financial accounts pass to the proper beneficiaries?
The estate plan you write today could help your family have a better future after you are gone. We urge you to review and update your estate plan as soon as possible.
Call to learn how to update your estate plan
The attorneys at Henke, Williams & Boll assist clients like you with estate planning, litigation, and other matters. But we don’t just help a little. We win cases through aggressive representation using extensive knowledge of the Texas legal system.
For a free consultation or phone appointment, call 713-940-4500 or use the convenient contact form located on our website. We represent clients in the Houston area, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Waller County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, and Brazoria County.