We have stressed recently the importance of monitoring your documents due to the recent estate tax and power of attorney changes. While the current state of laws is ever-changing, I have learned that my client’s lives undergo changes far more often. Changes based on health, finance, or social relationships occur every day. For this reason, I stress to my clients that it is imperative that they review their documents every 6-12 months to identify any life changes which have taken place since signing their documents.
Recently, I had a client whose Will was drafted in the late 1970’s. Prior to his death, this document was never changed. Though the Will never changed, his life and his wishes had changed dramatically. Unfortunately, despite his wishes at death, his outdated documents will govern the disposition of his estate. A yearly document review could have avoided this unfortunate outcome.
A simple review does not always entail a visit to your attorney’s office. Once a year, if not more, I strongly urge everyone to pull out your estate planning documents and read through them. Make sure that what is captured in these documents is a true reflection of your current wishes. Should you recognize necessary changes (such as marriage, divorce, death, estrangement from a relative, or financial gains or losses); contact your estate planning attorney. Moreover, as we stress regularly, you should also review the beneficiary designations of your retirement accounts, IRAs, annuities and life insurance policies to make sure that they are consistent with your estate planning documents. Minor maintenance such as this can avoid major heartbreak in the future.
- Gary Altman, Esq. and Adam Abramowitz, JD