As your life circumstances change through marriage, children, grandchildren, moving, divorce or other events, your estate plan should be reviewed and updated to reflect your current situation and wishes.
Many clients realize when their situation or circumstances change that the central part of their estate plan (typically a trust or a will) needs to be updated, but forget about the other documents they prepared as part of their comprehensive plan. Other such documents may include a Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and/or Directive to Physicians, often referred to as a “Living Will”. Oftentimes the same person is nominated to serve as, for example, the Successor Trustee and the Attorney in Fact under a Financial Power of Attorney. If a client changes their successor trustee because that person is no longer a good choice but forgets to also update their Power of Attorney designation, their intentions and wishes may be thwarted as the person they intended to completely remove from their plan is actually still an integral part of it. In addition to modifying the person or people nominated in a Financial or Health Care Power of Attorney, your wishes regarding end of life decisions might also change. Thus, one’s Directive to Physicians should also be revisited every few years to assure that those are still your wishes. These documents should also be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the law governing Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives.
Below is a brief description of several of the ancillary documents that should be a part of your estate plan which ought to be periodically reviewed on a regular basis along with your will or trust to ensure your estate plan is current and reflects your intent.
In summary, please don’t forget to review these important documents on occasions when you feel that changes in life have impacted your estate plan.