When Do I Update my Will, Power of Attorney, and Other Important Planning Documents?
For most of our clients, we recommend and offer a free “check up” at least once every three (3) years to be sure that your life care plan, as well as your wishes for the handling of your affairs after you pass away, are all in order. Below are some of the key factors to consider:
Passage of Time
- Has it been more than 3 years since you reviewed your current Will, Power of Attorney, Healthcare representative designation, Living Will or other aspects of your life care or estate plan?
- Is your Power of Attorney document for making legal, financial, tax, banking, real estate and/or business decisions older than 5 years? (Many banks have adopted policies attempting to restrict the use of POAs that are more than 5 years old).
- If you become disabled, is your Living Will, Medical POA and/or Healthcare Representative Designation document for making health care decisions older than 5 years?
Change in Family or Personal Circumstances and Assets
- Have you had children since your estate planning documents were signed?
- Have your children had children?
- Have any of your children been married, divorced, separated or died since your planning documents were signed?
- Have you recently been married, divorced, separated, or become widowed since your estate planning documents were signed?
- Have you, your spouse or child become physically or mentally incapacitated since your planning documents were signed?
- Since creating your estate plan, are your children now adults or mature enough to receive an inheritance without the need for a trustee?
- Are you concerned that anything passing to a beneficiary might cause him or her to lose government benefits such as Medicaid, SSI or housing assistance?
- Have you grown concerned that any of your beneficiaries face possible marital strife, addictive behaviors, lack of maturity, IRS, money or creditor issues?
- Is it now likely that you will pass a sizable IRA, 401 (k) or other significant retirement savings on to your loved ones? Are you familiar with the relevant tax consequences?
Change in Financial Circumstances
- Has the value of your assets changed significantly since you signed your planning documents?
- Have you added or changed the kind of assets you own since your planning documents were signed?
- Have you moved, bought or sold a house or other real estate since your planning documents were signed?
- Are you contemplating selling or transferring stock, real estate or other valuable assets which have grown significantly in value since you acquired them?
- Have you made any significant gifts or loans since your estate planning documents were signed or are you contemplating doing so?
- Have you come into an inheritance or is it likely that you will do so in the near future?
- Have you acquired or revised beneficiary designations on “non-probate” assets such as life insurance, IRAs, annuities etc that will pass outside your Will to the designated primary and secondary beneficiaries?
Change In Goals, Wishes Or Desires
- Do you wish to support any charities by making a bequest at the time of your death?
- Is there any personal property that you would like to distributed to specific beneficiaries (like leaving your wedding band to a granddaughter) that has not been clearly set forth in your planning documents
- Since you signed your planning documents, have you changed your mind about any aspect of the plan?
- Have you planned adequately for the placement and care of any cherished pets?
Changes In Location, Jurisdiction Or Law
- Have you moved between states since your planning documents were signed?
- Have you bought or sold real estate in other states?
- Have you bought a second home or changed your legal residence?
- Are your children or dependents now enrolled in college or trade schools; especially if housing is out of state?
- Have state or federal tax laws or thresholds changed since you executed your planning documents?
Other Issues to Consider
- If you have a Living Trust, are Medicaid triggers in place to ensure that at the appropriate time Medicaid or long term care planning can be implemented?
- If you have minor children, does your estate plan name Guardians for them?
- If you have a Trust, are there any assets that you have not transferred into your Trust?
- Is there any doubt that you made your wishes clear enough to your loved ones and given them access to all of the information needed to help you implement a life care plan in the event of disability or to manage your affairs after your death? (Ask us about our free “Last Gift Letter of Instructions and Sentiments”).
If you have answered ‘YES’ to any of these questions, it is a good idea to schedule a review appointment.