Many adults are hesitant to discuss, much less implement, a comprehensive estate plan. They believe that there is no need to create an estate plan for a variety of reasons, the most common being that they are not wealthy enough to require a comprehensive plan.
While an individual’s financial status should never be the ultimate consideration when implementing an estate plan, often an individual who finally decides to take steps to plan for his/her estate believes that the plan, once implemented, will be forever sound, and that no changes or updates will ever be needed. This type of thinking can potentially be a costly mistake. In all likelihood, changes in state or federal laws and/or changes in an individual’s family life or professional status may not produce the same plan outcome currently as it would have when it was first implemented many years ago.
It is important for people to appreciate that estate planning is an on-going process, and in that respect it is imperative that each individual periodically reviews his/her estate plan (especially due to a major occurrence in an individual’s life) to ensure that an individual’s particular planning vehicle accurately reflects the intent of the plan. As a practical matter, the more current and up-to-date an individual’s estate plan is, the more likely it will be that the plan will effectively achieve an individual’s current goals. Further, it will be less likely that the planning documents will be subject to challenges or be scrutinized by a Court if the documents are current.
The periodic review of an individual’s estate planning documents is also important simply so that he/she understands what the documents say. It is very common for an individual’s goals and views to change over the years, and planning documents should reflect those current goals. It is also possible that an individual nominated to play an important role in the documents has died or is no longer able to carry out an individual’s wishes for one reason or another.
Whatever the reason, keeping estate planning documents up-to-date is crucial to ensuring the documents remain effective.