We have reviewed thousands of wills and trusts. Often we find when someone creates a Last Will or Living Trust they put it in a file or on a shelf and forget about it. Dust collects and life continues. But what impacts has life’s movements had on your estate plan? What about the individuals that you have listed, as a beneficiary or decision maker - Over time situations change, relationships change and people die.
I recently met with a couple that had created their Living Trust many years earlier. They came in to meet with me about a simple change - adding a beneficiary. As part of our normal process, while reviewing the documents I asked them about certain people named in the trust. They were surprised at my question because some had died several years earlier. I then joked with them that their deceased friend will have an awfully hard time serving as their successor trustee. They had completely forgotten that they had listed their friend to manage their trust after they pass. Together we reviewed more of their plan and found several items that needed to be updated.
Estate plans need to be reviewed on a regular basis. We recommend to all of our clients that a review every three years is prudent. Sometimes there are law changes that can significantly affect the plan or there might have been a falling out with someone that was asked to serve an important role such as a health care agent or power of attorney.
When we build an estate plan, we try to build to be as flexible as possible; trying to account for some of life’s uncertainties. However, the plan is based on the criteria, needs and concerns at that particular point in time. And as we know, the old saying goes…life happens.
Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Carefree, Sedona, Flagstaff and Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Partner, West Hunsaker.
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This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.