While there are regular reports about the need for keeping estate plans up to date following important life events such as a move, growing a family, or starting a business, the simplest reason is often overlooked. What is this reason? Time. Even though your estate planning documents may be perfectly legal and binding, the passage of time can still create a need for a modification.
Five Reasons to Modify Older Estate Planning Documents
Why is it so important to keep your estate planning documents up to date over the years? Following are five reasons:
- When a power of attorney is old, even if it is still a valid and binding legal instrument, you may run into difficulties if you try to use it. Some banks will automatically reject the document if it is older than a certain number of years. For example, your loved one may attempt to use your power of attorney at the Santa Ana branch of Bank of America after you become disabled and are unable to pay your own bills. Unfortunately, you won’t know if a bank will decide your power of attorney is too old until it’s too late. Modify older documents now to prevent this type of situation from happening.
- Similarly, when an advanced directive is old, it may no longer align with your specific wishes for your end of life care. The document itself may be legally binding, but if it does not accomplish your wishes, it will still fail to achieve its purpose.
- The older your will is, the greater potential for it to be subject to attack. Someone may claim that the will is so old that it no longer mirrors your intentions, and therefore, they might allege that a more recent will was created. Similarly, it may be more difficult to prove that the will was validly executed. While will contests do not happen to every family, they do occur, and anything that you can do to reduce the likelihood will ultimately save your estate from losing valuable assets.
- While an old trust may still be perfectly functional and legal, chances are good that it is missing more modern provisions that could benefit your estate plan. New techniques are regularly being incorporated into estate planning. These new techniques should be discussed with your estate planning attorney to learn whether it is worth modifying your trust.
- Perhaps the most important reason to consider modifying your estate plan every couple of years is that things simply change. This applies to all “things”, from the people you might want to serve as trustee of your trust, to the size of your family, to the estate tax laws that potentially impact your estate. It is rare that a person’s circumstances have not changed significantly over time. Any time these changes occur, it is important to ensure that your estate plan is modified.
When it comes to keeping an estate plan up to date, procrastination is your enemy. Do not wait any longer. We encourage you to call us directly to start the process of evaluating your need for an update.