Having an estate plan is important, but having one means only part of your job is done. A plan has to be complete and current. Not enough people have an estate plan, but of those that do a high percentage let their plans become outdated.
The wrong executors or trustees can wreak havoc on even the best estate plan. Those whom you designate to act for you under either a financial or medical power of attorney also are critical choices. Review the choices in your plan.
This is particularly important if it's been a while since you've reviewed your estate plan. The executor, trustee, and agents are the keys to ensuring your plan is implemented as you intended, as reported in a recent Investing Daily article titled "Knowing When to Update Your Plan." Keep in touch with these individuals, and if you need to make a change, talk with your estate planning attorney.
Major changes in your life are the biggest motivator for a visit to your estate planning attorney. This can include marriage, divorce, the addition of a child, or if children are now adults. A grandchild or changes in your health or the health of a loved one also might necessitate some changes in your plan. A change in net worth or the sale of a business or investment real estate might also alter your strategies.
The original article also asks, "Where are you spending time?" That's because every state has its own laws governing estates, trusts, property ownership, and powers of attorney. Typically the state where you are considered to be a resident or domicile is the state where your estate will be probated—this governs your trusts and financial power of attorney.
A medical power of attorney and related documents must be valid in the state you’re physically in when medical care is needed. Your estate planning attorney should be aware if you moved or are spending more time out of state than you used to (such as a winter or summer home). Discuss this with your attorney, and he or she will determine which state is considered your current legal residence.
Real estate is subject to probate and related laws in the state in which it is located, regardless of where the owner lives. Some other property also might fall under the laws of another state instead of your home state. If you bought property in another state, your estate will have to go through probate in at least two states. There are ways to avoid this expensive situation.
The article suggests that if your plan is more than five years old, you probably should touch base with your estate planning attorney.
Reference: Investing Daily (June 4, 2014) "Knowing When to Update Your Plan"