We typically advise our clients to set two separate sets of deadlines to mark their calendar with. The first is a once-a-year personal review of the decisions that they made (decision-makers, beneficiaries, etc.) to account for any changes in life circumstances that may affect the documents.
The second review is with in an Estate Planning attorney, and ideally is done every three to five years. Trusts & Estates law evolves quickly, and we are often revising the way we draft our documents to account for changes in the law at the state and federal level. This includes legislation at the state and federal level (e.g., SECURE ACT 2.0), and landmark decisions by the courts overruling decades of previously understood law, all of which have happened recently.
We often hear from former clients who need to change their backup Personal Representative, not realizing that they were also the decision-maker in other documents as well. In addition, if enough time has passed since their signing, it is likely that there are several changes that also need to be made to the “legalese” of the document. We would be doing a disservice to our clients if we simply swapped names only in the Will and left them vulnerable. It would also be a malpractice for us. For instance, no doctor would prescribe you a new medication unless they spoke with you personally at a proper appointment, even if you are a longstanding patient of their medical practice. They want to see the whole picture, and so do we, so we are unable to give a cost estimate.
With our Probate clients, we sometimes have to have a difficult discussion regarding their loved one’s Last Will and Testaments: that they were drafted too long ago, and end up not working the way their loved ones intended, sometimes disinheriting someone, sometimes leaving someone a lot less than intended, due to changes in law or circumstances.
Estate Planning is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Regularly reviewing and revising your documents is essential to ensure that your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes, your beneficiaries are protected, and your estate is settled efficiently. If it has been more than 3-5 years since you last reviewed your Estate Plan, now is the time to schedule a review with your Estate Planning attorney.
Please call us at 301-696-0567 or self-schedule at lenaclarklegal.com if you would like help protecting your assets and loved ones in the event of death or disability.
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