A well-crafted estate plan can help ensure that your assets are properly protected and dispersed at the end of your life. Passing on without a properly funded living trust may prevent your family members and other beneficiaries from inheriting your estate the way you desire, leaving it in the hands of a probate court. As such, all individuals, regardless of wealth, should take steps to create a comprehensive estate plan with the help of an estate planning attorney.
Furthermore, those who have taken steps to craft their plan should make sure to review it at regular intervals, and make modifications whenever necessary. In fact, performing routine analysis of your plan can help ensure it includes all of your desired beneficiaries and adheres to any existing or upcoming estate planning laws, further protecting your estate’s contents upon your passing.
When to Conduct an Analysis of Your Estate Plan
Those with a current living trust or will should enlist the help of an estate planning attorney who can ensure it complies with all laws and regulations.
Ultimately, you should be sure to analyze your estate planning documents should any of the following events take place:
> The addition of a family member, through birth or adoption;
> A change in marital status, yours or your beneficiary’s, including marriage or divorce;
> A change in dependency status of a spouse, parents, or other member of the family;
> The receipt of a large gift or inheritance, or an increase in income;
> The death of a family member; or
> A significant increase of the value of your assets.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and there are a variety of other events that may necessitate an update of your living trust or will.
Furthermore, even if no such events have taken place, estate planning laws change from time to time, which may affect the contents of your documents. For that reason, an annual review of your living trust or will is the best practice to follow, in addition to reviewing your plan after any of the above listed events.
Consequences of Failing to Update Your Living Trust or Will
While there may be no immediate penalties associated with not updating your documents, it could create negative results for your beneficiaries.
Most importantly, not updating may cause your estate to be distributed in a way not in accordance with your wishes. For example, the birth of a new grandchild might not cause a change in your plan. But if that new grandchild has physical or mental challenges that will cause him to be eligible for assistance in the future, an outright inheritance from you may be a disadvantage rather than a blessing. An experienced estate planning attorney can explain the options you have for protecting that grandchild’s inheritance.
How to Conduct an Analysis of Your Estate Plan
Considering the consequences of not maintaining an updated living trust or will, everyone should take action to analyze their estate plan and make any necessary changes. And further, this step should be facilitated with the help of an estate planning attorney.
The Estate Planning Attorneys at Krigel & Krigel can conduct a thorough examination of your living trust or will to ensure it is valid under the law, and that it will provide a clear plan of action for your estate at the end of your life. They can also provide guidance on the other documents necessary to protect you during life, such as Durable Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives. If you are in Kansas or Missouri, or the surrounding area, be sure to contact them with any questions you may have.
*This article is very general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. Readers with legal questions should consult with an attorney prior to making any legal decisions.