• Do You Need An Estate Planning Checkup?
  • June 18, 2003 | Author: Elizabeth Holland Hutchins
  • Law Firm: Sirote & Permutt, P.C. - Birmingham Office
  • After people sign new Wills, they tend to file them away and then do not revisit their estate plan for years. In the meantime, changes take place that have a major impact on their life or their tax and financial picture. If the estate plan is not updated to reflect those changes, unintended consequences may result. Circumstances that may cause a need to update your estate plan include: Death in the family Birth of children or grandchildren Change in preference for guardian or trustee for minor children Children growing up Illness or disability of yourself or a family member Change in financial status Change in tax laws We recommend that you review your estate plan every two to three years to ensure that it continues to carry out your wishes with respect to guardians, personal representatives, trustees and agents under your power of attorney and health care directive. New powers of attorney and health care directives should be signed every few years so their validity is not questioned by an institution where the agent needs to transact business on your behalf. A visit with your estate planning attorney is in order if you have a major change in family or financial circumstances or there is a major tax law change. Many times your estate planning "check-up" will result in a clean bill of health and no changes will be needed. If changes are recommended, they can often be accomplished by a simple Codicil (amendment) to your Will, while comprehensive changes would be better accomplished by a new Will. Sometimes your documents will not need changes, but you may need additional planning, such as gifting or other strategies. If it has been too long since you have reviewed your plan, consider doing so soon.