You would have a difficult time finding an attorney who creates estate plans to claim that people don’t need one. That isn’t because they are trying to sell you on something. It’s because they have likely seen and witnessed the consequences of failing to develop an estate plan.
Beyond that, there are other mistakes people can make. For example, they build a beautifully robust estate plan—and they never look at it again. The error here is not allowing an estate plan to change as you do. The key is knowing when that needs to happen.
Several documents come together to form an estate plan. Two of those are your power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney. Most people will put their spouse’s name down for these responsibilities.
If you have a falling out with your former spouse, you don’t want to rely on them to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated or unable.
If you get remarried but have children from a former marriage, take the time to divide your assets amongst them and your new spouse. Your new spouse has a different relationship with your children than you do. Distribute your assets directly to them rather than relying on someone to do so for you after you pass away.
New Location, New Laws
When your attorney drafts and finalizes your estate plan, he does it per the laws in the state you are in. If you create a will, for example, and then move to a new state years later, meet with an attorney to ensure the will is still valid. In addition, you may have moved to a state that requires fewer estate taxes. Your attorney can ensure you have the correct documentation in place to get you those tax benefits. Otherwise, your estate may be subject to the higher taxes of your previous state.
The odds are it may only require a small number of adjustments if it needs any at all. Did you leave enough for your spouse? Did you have the proper number of witnesses? Or your attorney may hand it back to you and confirm it’s still valid. Even that is not a loss because you gain peace of mind. You know your plan is still in place.
If you are ready to build the estate plan that will protect you and your assets in the long term (or even to modify an existing one), contact J. Kevin Tharpe, P.C. today. We have an extensive amount of experience surrounding trusts, wills, and powers of attorney. Let our knowledge and command of estate planning deliver you the peace of mind you deserve.