A proactive approach to estate planning can consider various life contingencies,
yet the future is ultimately unknowable. For example, a lot can change
between an individual's mid-life career and retirement. If retirement
accounts are not updated to reflect current beneficiaries, there may be
unintended consequences once the original account holder reaches retirement
age and begins taking required distributions.
To avoid surprises, it is a good idea to update one's estate plan periodically
and after significant life events. Such events might be the illness or
disability of a spouse or other loved one, purchasing a large asset, taking
on unexpected debt, or career changes.
An attorney that focuses on wills and trusts can suggest efficient ways
to ensure that an
estate plan still reflects the intentions of its grantor. For example, it may not always be necessary to amend a trust. If a grantor
has acquired new assets, an attorney can change the ownership to assets
retitled in the name of the trust.
In the celebrity example of Farrah Fawcett, a recent article profiled the
revocable living trust created by the actress to manage her estate. The
largest portion of the estate went to a charitable foundation devoted
to cancer research. The trust also created funds for the support of Fawcett's
son and father, and further bequeathed all of her artwork to her alma
mater, the University of Texas.
However, a dispute arose when Ryan O'Neal, Fawcett's former boyfriend
and the father of her son, claimed that he owned one of Fawcett's
portraits, painted by Andy Warhol and valued at around twelve million
dollars. Fawcett's trust had not been updated to specifically itemize
all of the artwork, so the dispute eventually went before a jury, which
ultimately ruled for O'Neal.
Source: Reelz, "Celebrity Legacies: Farrah Fawcett," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Feb. 6, 2015