When should a person's estate plan be reviewed?

Some people in Quincy may have created an estate plan years ago and considered the matter settled. However, as time progresses, big changes can happen in a person's life. For this reason, estate planning is not a "one and done" process, but instead estate plans should be reviewed periodically, to ensure their provisions are still appropriate.

One reason to review an estate plan is if there have been changes in tax laws. For example, back in 2001 the United States Congress passed a significant tax law affecting exemption amounts. If a person's estate plan was created prior to that date and not updated, there could be negative tax consequences.

Another reason to review an estate plan is if there have been changes in marital laws. For example, 2015 saw the landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. This means that same-sex couples who created an estate plan prior to that date may now have more estate planning rights that should be addressed.

In addition, if a person moved to another state after creating their estate plan, they should understand that their new state of residence may have different taxes and laws. Therefore, an estate plan created prior to the move should take these new requirements into account.

Also, if a person's family dynamic has changed, this too warrants a review of their estate plan and beneficiary designations. For example, after creating an estate plan, a person might marry, divorce, have children or loved ones may have died. An estate plan and beneficiary designations established prior to these significant life events should be reviewed to accommodate them.

Some people include charitable distributions in their estate plan. However, a charity could become defunct or could change their purpose. It is important to review such matters, to ensure they still meet your wishes.

As time marches on, a person's finances could change. They may have either purchased or sold property, had a significant increase in income or have started a business. An estate plan should reflect these changes.

These are all good reasons to review an estate plan. However, just as you might have sought legal help when creating an estate plan, so can an attorney be essential in reviewing one. An attorney can explain any changes in the law and can ensure that any changes made to an estate plan are legally enforceable. This way, a person can rest assured that their final wishes will be met.

Source: azbigmedia.com, "Here are 8 reasons to revisit your estate plan," Susan Teson, Sept. 1, 2017

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