How often do you read your estate plan and other important documents such as your will, trust and power of attorney? Do you remember what these documents say? Do you still feel you can trust that the individuals listed as executors and trustees will act in your best interests and follow through with your wishes? Have you listed a trust adviser or trust protector that can handle the job?
So, how often should you review these important documents? There is no right or wrong answer. But here’s a rule of thumb I use myself and recommend to clients, family and friends.
At Least Once a Year
Peruse your important legal documents. This is not a full in depth reading, but a high level review to make sure you are comfortable with each provision of each document. For documents like wills and trusts you should make sure that you know and trust each individual/company listed (i.e. executors, trustees, etc.).
Newer trust documents have trust adviser and/or trust protector language in them – make sure you have a great level of trust in this person and the belief that this person will always follow your wishes.
At Least Every Three Years
Every 3 years you should do an in-depth review of all your legal documents with your attorney. Most attorneys will charge a flat rate to review the documents with you (especially if they wrote the documents), make any changes you’ve discussed with them and make any updates necessary to comply with new laws. (If your attorney wants to make changes to comply with new laws, and that is the only reason they are updating your documents, make sure you understand why they want to update the documents. Usually, but not always, documents do not need to be updated for minor changes in estate planning laws).
How to Remember?
The attorney who prepared the documents for you should remind you to review the documents. If they do not, ask your accountant or tax preparer to remind you. They use date monitoring systems to keep track of your account – adding an extra line to remind you to review your important documents is quick and simple (Sidekicks do this for our Heroes).
Need help with your plan?
If you don’t have an estate plan set-up, the cost is low enough that it is well worth the effort in meeting with an attorney. Find someone you are comfortable and you’ll have a relationship built to last. A great place to start is asking your other trusted professionals. Avvo, whose mission is to help people make the best decisions for their important legal needs, also has a wealth of information on attorneys across the country.
We love helping you make the best decision for your situation. Initial conversations with us are always provided at no cost to you (we’d rather you make an informed decision than a guess!)
We made assumptions and used brevity, simplicity and professional judgement in preparing this information. Your specific situation may vary. We recommend contacting a CPA and/or attorney prior to making any important business decisions.