A very common question asked by many is, â€œI have an Estate Plan, but how often do I need to make changes to it, or review it?â€ I have witnessed clients having their estate plan completed over fifteen years ago and have not reviewed it once. This is definitely not the recommended approach.
Drafting an Estate Plan is essential for all families, whether you are single, married, or married with kids; but, reviewing those documents on a consistent basis is just as important. If you established a plan ten years ago when you were married, you could find yourself now having three kids with the same plan, but the consequences could be significant; because at the time of the drafting you didnâ€™t include any kids (since you didnâ€™t have any), but now by not having done a review, your plan still does not make any mention of your kids â€“ not what you initially planned out.
That is why it is always important to have a sit-down and take the time to go over your Estate Plan and make sure it still fits your primary objective. The following is a list of tips that will help you decide whether it is time for you to review your Estate Plan.
No Kids/Young Kids â€“ A review is a must if at the time you drafted your Estate Plan you had no kids, or your kids were relatively young (under the age of 18).
New Grandkids â€“ If at the time of your Estate Plan you had no grandkids, but if you find yourself with grandkids, and would like to leave something for them, you should definitely have a review of your trust.
Difference in Wealth â€“ Significant changes in your personal wealth also plays a role in your overall Estate Plan, as there could be new strategies/goals that would better suit your current situation.
Marital Status â€“ If you had a change in your marital status (married or divorced), then a review of your plan is important, as you may need to include and/or exclude certain individuals.
No Review for Two Years â€“ Some may find this too early, but through experience it is found that over a course of two years, a lot changes for families, whether itâ€™s dealing with new kids, grandkids, change of wealth, or personal preferences. Therefore, it is advisable to make sure you complete a review at least once every two years.
One issue many have with this is that the Attorney they completed their plan with charges for the reviews. For anyone looking to draft an Estate Plan, always make sure the law firm you proceed with explains their fees (not just for the actual drafting, but for any changes that may be needed, or for follow-up meetings). Many firms charge less for the Estate Plan, but make-up the cost by charging for meetings and changes, which more often than not, is not properly explained to the client.
Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Shariah Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 381-2663.