When you were in school, you may have planted a time capsule in which you and your classmates placed special items to bury for future generations. You may fondly recall the item you chose to place in the time capsule, or perhaps you can't even remember what it was. Was it your favorite 8-track tape? A picture of you in your coolest bell-bottom jeans? A ticket stub from the first time you saw Star Wars?
Unlike a time capsule, your estate plan should not be buried in the ground for someone else to dig up at a later date. In fact, there are many times when you should review and revise your plan so that it does not become just a piece of useless nostalgia.
Worth a second look
Ignoring your estate plan can leave your loved ones with confusing documents that may not accurately express your wishes for your assets. Any major life event is a good reason to pull out your documents or contact your attorney for an evaluation. This is not limited to your will and trust, but includes the beneficiary assignments on your IRA and other accounts. Your will does not cover some of these, so the designations you make are critical to ensuring the payout goes to the right people.
While a periodic revisiting of your plan is a good idea, there are times when revising your plan may be especially important, for example:
- Your spouse died.
- You got divorced or remarried.
- You had or adopted a child.
- You changed jobs.
- You moved to a new state or sold your home.
- You retired or sold your business.
- You are now caring for someone with special needs.
- You have a new interest in charitable giving.
These are only a few of the circumstances that may warrant a new look at your beneficiary designations. Additionally, state and federal tax laws are always in flux, and the economy may alter your financial status. Reviewing your estate plan can keep your documents current and relevant.
Does everything match?
In addition to ensuring that your beneficiary designations match your wishes, it is important to make sure your accounts have consistent titles. If your savings account or investments use your common nickname, but your life insurance or trust uses your full name, including any suffixes such as Junior, there may be confusion and frustration during probate. Your Arizona attorney can guide you in establishing consistency among your account titles.
There are other ways a legal professional can guide you in creating and maintaining a complete and effective estate plan. Because your attorney has the most current information about changes in estate planning laws, you can be certain of getting sound advice and guidance.