Estate planning is an ongoing process
January 20, 2012
Editor’s Note: If you have a question for Cassandra Jones, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be answered in a future column.
“Oh, I did a will once.” That is the most common response I get when I ask someone if they have an estate plan.
However, planning is an ongoing process that reflects your current needs, relationships, resources and goals. You need to make sure your plan is reviewed at least every three years to ensure that is meets your needs.
The first reason to review your trust is because of a change in your life or family.
Perhaps someone has married, or divorced. Perhaps a child was born, or has matured and is no longer a minor.
Perhaps someone has shown that they need additional incentive or assistance if they were to receive an inheritance from you. When circumstances change for you or your family, then you need to review your plan to make sure it meets the goals you have now.
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The second reason to review your trust is to ensure that whoever takes care of you is the right person.
When you plan with a will, trust, or powers of attorney, you nominate someone to take care of you, your finances, and often your family (especially in the case of minor children). But, as circumstances change, the people you trust to manage your affairs may no longer be the best choice for you.
There are many reasons why they may no longer be the best choice: maybe you (or they) have moved; grown apart; a divorce or marriage has occurred; or another person is better suited to what the role requires.
If your nominated actors are not the people you would want making decisions, then you need to have your estate plan reviewed.
Finally, laws change. In Nevada, our Legislature meets and makes changes every two years. In the past two Legislative sessions, there have been significant changes affecting how powers of attorney are used, and altering our state’s trust laws. In my opinion, many of these changes have improved the quality of planning available in our state.
Our legislature is working diligently to make our state one of the best for planning in the country.
But if you have not reviewed or revised your estate plan in the last two years, then you are not taking advantage of the new laws.
Planning is an ongoing process and should not stop once the documents are signed.
You need to maintain your plan, have it reviewed regularly, and ensure that it continues to meet the goals you have for yourself and others.