Once a will and/or trust are in place, individuals may be tempted to regard
their estate planning as complete. Yet preparing for the future distribution
of one's estate is not something that should be approached with a
to-do list mentality.
An attorney that focuses on estates and trusts knows that an estate plan
should be reviewed every few years. The reason for periodic updating is
that significant life events can drastically alter
For example, parents who first created a will or trust when their children
were minors may have named a guardian. If those children are grown and/or
have children of their own, their needs are no longer the same. Perhaps
an estate plan may include a trust intended for a special purpose, such
as the purchase of a home or funding the college education of grandchildren.
Unlike a will, assets can stay in a trust, perhaps until the named beneficiaries
reach a certain age or other written conditions are met.
Relationship or job changes also impact an estate plan. Employer-sponsored
retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, often include beneficiary designations.
An attorney can help an individual rollover 401(k) plans from previous
positions and remind individuals to update their beneficiary designations.
It may even make sense to create a revocable trust and title those retirement
accounts in the name of the trust.
Finally, many individuals include a living well as part of their estate
plan. In the event an individual has suffered a disability or changed
opinions about certain life-sustaining procedures, it will be important
to revise an estate plan to reflect those new conditions.