Comprehensive estate planning should be a continuing process. It is important to review your estate plan periodically, especially after major life events occur. An experienced estate planning attorney that helps you review your comprehensive estate plan as part of their service can make sure that you address changing needs and circumstances. The following can also provide a framework for you to start thinking about what to look for when reviewing your estate plan.
Start with Your Will
This is often a good place to start in creating your estate plan and in reviewing it. As time goes on, you are likely to experience a number of changes. Your family may grow to include additional beneficiaries. You are also likely to acquire a number of different assets. An effective Will will take all of this into consideration and include detailed instructions for distributing the assets within it.
The more up-to-date and detailed your Will is, the less likely it is to be challenged in court. Additionally, starting the framework for a comprehensive Will at an early age can help avoid challenges based on incapacitation or duress.
Review Medical Documentation
It is beneficial to make sure that your estate plan contains important medical documentation. Such forms may include a health care power of attorney, a living will, and a HIPAA authorization. All of these documents work together to create an important and significant part of your estate plan.
Often, younger people that engage in estate planning do not always consider these documents because they do not feel the need for them at the time. However, it is important to remember that the unexpected can happen at any moment. That is why creating and maintaining these documents is crucial at any age.
Reviewing these documents once they have become a part of your estate plan is equally important. It is possible that your goals and views have changed if you created these documents a long time ago. It is also possible that an individual you nominated to play an important role in these documents predeceased you or is no longer able to carry out your wishes for one reason or another. Whatever the reason, keeping these forms up to date is crucial to making sure they remain effective.
Utilize and Review Trusts
Trusts can be a beneficial part of a comprehensive estate plan. For a long time, trusts seemed like something out of reach for the majority of people. However, trusts are actually very feasible ways to protect assets and ensure the financial viability of your estate.
More than that, a living trust can help protect your assets in case you become incapacitated. When you transfer assets to a revocable living trust, you still maintain control over those assets. However, if you experience incapacitation or other circumstances arise, the trust can ensure that important details related to the assets within it do not fall by the wayside and jeopardize the integrity of your estate.
If you decide to use trusts as an estate planning vehicle, significant changes in your circumstances could invalidate a trust or require that the trust be modified. You may even find it necessary to transfer the assets from one trust that no longer meets your needs into another one that is more appropriate.