You took charge of your estate. You met with your lawyer, drafted a will, filled out an advanced directive for healthcare, and maybe even set up some kind of trust. You’re all set, right?

Well…if you haven’t updated your estate plan in a while, the answer is probably no. According to one study, about 70 percent of estate plans end in either asset losses, or a rift in family harmony—and the most common reason for estate plan failure is lack of follow through. An outdated estate plan will almost certainly lead to unwanted results.

Why Should I Update My Estate Plan?

With everyone living busy lives, it’s easy to overlook the task of updating your estate plan. However, life circumstances and relationships change all the time. People get married (and divorced), have children (and grandchildren), endure the death of a loved one, or have a falling out with a close friend. Every time you experience a major life event, it’s important that you update your estate plan accordingly. Updating your estate plan when your life circumstances change can ensure that your assets—and your family’s feelings—are protected.

In addition to accounting for major life events, another reason to update your estate plan regularly is that the tax laws often change. Most notably, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 legislated substantial changes to the ways that taxes are assessed, including inheritance tax. If you haven’t updated your estate plan in a decade, it will not reflect these major pieces of legislation, and will not take full advantage of provisions that can benefit you and your heirs.

How Should I Address an Outdated Estate Plan?

Luckily, you can address an outdated estate plan at any time. The first thing to do is to gather all your existing documents—including wills, trust papers, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives. Often, people file away these documents and never look at them, so you might need to do some searching to find them. Then, it’s important to hire an experienced estate planning attorney. Although updating an estate plan is a very manageable process, it can be rather complex and is not something you should attempt to do on your own. Along with your attorney, you will review your documents, and make updates to reflect any major life changes, as well as any changes in tax and estate law. Finally, it is important to inform all your relatives about the role they will play in executing your estate plan, and make sure they feel comfortable with their responsibilities. Springing the surprise of major responsibility on a loved one after you pass is a surefire way to create confusion, and potentially cause your estate plan to fail.

Contact Caress Law, PC

At Caress Law, we have many years of experience with all aspects of estate planning, probate, and trust administration. We can help get your estate plan up-to-date, so you can rest easy knowing your hard-earned assets will transfer smoothly to their intended beneficiaries.

Call us at (503) 292-8990 or fill out the contact form below to get started updating (or creating) your estate plan today.

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