You may think that your estate plan is something you already checked off your to-do list years ago.
But the truth is that it’s not realistic to think that something you drafted years or even months ago still works for your current situation. To illustrate just how much can change since you last looked over your estate plan, we’ll use the Johnson family as an example.
Meet the Johnsons
Meet Bill and Karen Johnson. They got their first estate plan in place when their daughter, Jessica, was born 30 years ago. They updated it when their son Steve came along 4 years later. Ten years ago, after discussing it with their attorney, they put a great trust-based plan in place, protecting themselves, their children, their grandchildren, and their dog, Sadie.
But since then, things have gotten busy, grandkids have come into the picture, and they haven’t kept up with that all-important estate plan. Here are just a few things that have changed in their life in the past decade.
- Jessica and Steve are now adults and have graduated from college.
- Jessica is married and has two daughters. One of the girls may have autism.
- Steve is also married, and he and his wife are expecting their first child.
- Karen’s mother is now living with Bill and Karen.
- Bill and Karen bought a vacation home in Florida.
- Sadie had a litter of puppies but has since passed away. Bill and Karen kept two of the puppies who are now several years old.
The fact is that their estate plan, however great at the time of creation, will not work for their current life situation the way they may want it to.
What's Changed in Your Own Life?
The Johnsons have experienced a lot of changes, but those changes are typical of what 10 years brings. Think about the changes in your life over the past 10 years — or since you last updated your estate plan.
Have you moved? Do you have more children or grandchildren? Have you started a business, suffered health problems, or purchased a new home? Do you have new accounts and investments? Do you now care for a parent, pets, or dependent children? Have you remarried, gotten divorced, or retired? Has someone you loved died? Have friends or family named in your plan as trusted helpers moved away, or has your relationship changed? Are your children now adults and able to help you? Do you want to help with grandchildren’s college or dance lessons? Do you see the world in a different way?
Many things have happened in the past 10 years. Your estate plan needs to reflect the changes in your personal life, financial situation, and goals. There have also been changes in the law. We stay abreast of these changes to protect our clients in better and better ways, so the way we do things has changed as well.
New Year, New Estate Plan
If you’ve experienced changes like the Johnsons, or if it’s been more than 3 to 5 years since you updated your estate plan, it’s time to come see us. One of our experienced Estate Planning attorneys will review your plan and chat with you about what’s been happening in your life. We can get you and your estate plan up to date, reflecting where your life is now. Happy New Year!