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Is Your Estate Plan Obsolete?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

by Brendan Bybee, JD MPA

You likely felt a huge sense of relief when you first signed your estate planning documents after years of procrastination. Like most people, you were anxious to set aside the contemplation of your dreaded mortality. But, in the rush to move on, you may have forgotten that an estate plan has a shelf life. No, your Will or Trust won’t spoil, expire or self-destruct, mission impossible style, it will still “work,” but it may not do what you intended or expected. Unfortunately, the natural passage of time can turn your initial sense of relief into a false sense of comfort.

Though frustrating, this limitation has nothing to do with the cost or quality of your estate plan. Your estate plan is, of necessity, designed around a snapshot of your life and circumstances taken at the time your plan is designed and drafted. But, your personal and family dynamics will tend to change as you age and your financial concerns will evolve as you build wealth and acquire property. Laws, too, will change, with significant impact on the expected outcomes of your planning decisions. Life simply has a way of taking unexpected turns.

Your best efforts to prepare for the foreseeable future can look laughable in hindsight as you consider the unexpected events that have occurred since you took your estate plan home. Failing to review and update your plan on a regular basis can seriously frustrate your purposes and result in a great deal more trouble and expense for your loved ones.

To ensure your estate plan does what you want it to when you really need it to, you should sit down with your attorney and review your plan regularly (at least every 2 to 3 years) or upon the happening of a major life event such as:

  • Moving out of state.
  • The birth or adoption of a child or grandchild or other change in the number of dependents, such as through a guardianship appointment.
  • Children or grandchildren reaching adulthood.
  • The illness, death or disability of any immediate family member or other intended beneficiary.
  • Marriage or divorce for yourself or your children or other intended beneficiaries.
  • Career changes or the beginning or dissolution of a business.
  • Changes in your financial concerns or goals.
  • Purchase of a home or other valuable asset.
  • Large increases or decreases in the value of your assets.
  • Receipt of a large gift or inheritance.
  • Death or change in circumstances of the guardians, executors, trustees or other fiduciaries named in your estate plan.

Even if your intentions and financial circumstances have remained relatively constant, you could find that congress has effectively rewritten your estate plan. Over the last few years, significant changes in the law have created new challenges as well as opportunities for estate planning. If your plan is now several years old, it is likely very unsuited to take advantage of these new opportunities. As a result, your plan, if not brought up-to-date, could cause serious frustration for your surviving spouse or children.

The only thing worse than having no plan is having a plan that no longer works for you. If it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed your estate plan, please contact our office. Let’s sit down together and make sure your plan works for you now and in the future.

This information is made available by Spaulding Law for educational purposes only and not to provide legal advice. By using this website, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Spaulding Law, unless you have entered into a separate representation agreement. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

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• Take the Pleasant Grove exit 275 from I-15
• Turn North onto Pleasant Grove Blvd
• Turn left onto W. Grove Pkwy
• Quickly turn left into the Synergy/Spaulding Law parking lot.