Do You Update Your Estate Plan as Often as Your Resume? From Austin Estate Planning Attorney Liz Nielsen

Update Estate Plan

A resume is a snapshot of your experience, skill set, and education that provides prospective employers insight into who you are and how you will perform. Imagine not updating your resume for five, ten, or even fifteen years. Would it accurately reflect your professional abilities? Would it do what you want it to do? Probably not. Estate plans are similar in that they need to be regularly updated to reflect changes in your life and the law so they can do what you want them to do. Outdated estate plans, like outdated resumes, simply do not work. Your estate plan was written to reflect your situation at this specific point in time.  However, time doesn’t stand still, and our lives continue to change and unfold in ways we might not have anticipated.  Your plan should reflect those changes.  If not, the stale estate plan could fail to provide or protect when you need it most.  This means that over time you will need to periodically update your estate plan.

So, when should you update your estate plan?  It’s best practice to give your estate plan a quick review every year, and to conduct a more thorough review and update once every two to three years.  Why so often? Well, because often the reasons you sought out an estate plan change, and you want your plan to reflect those changes.

Take a Moment to Reflect

Think for a moment about all of the changes in your life so far. What has changed since you signed your will, trust agreement, and other estate planning documents? If something has changed that affects you, your trusted helpers, or your beneficiaries, your estate plan probably needs to reflect that change.

Below are examples of changes that are significant enough to warrant an estate plan review and likely updates:

  • A new family member that you want to provide for in your estate plan (child, grandchild, etc.) was born.
  • A new family member that you want to provide for was adopted.
  • You, a trusted decision maker, or a beneficiary got married.
  • You or a beneficiary got divorced or separated from a spouse.
  • A loved one passed away.
  • A loved one is now battling an addiction.
  • One of your trusted decision makers is now incapacitated.
  • A loved one is now disabled.
  • You or a loved one is now suffering some health challenges.
  • Your financial status or a beneficiary’s has changed, either for better or worse.
  • Laws pertaining to tax, retirement accounts or benefits, property, or other relevant topics have changed.
  • You, a trusted decision maker, or a beneficiary moved to a new state.
  • Your family circumstances have changed.
  • Your business circumstances have changed — changing jobs, getting promoted, retired, filing for bankruptcy, willing the lottery, or retiring.

Annual Maintenance

Some people don’t want to contemplate incapacity or death, so they avoid making an estate plan at all. This intentional failure t0 plan often results in chaos, since the court winds up making all the decisions of their estate for them. Most often, people visit an estate planning attorney to avoid this kind of chaos. Yet, once they have set up their plan, they move on and never look back. Sadly, this well-intentioned attitude can also lead to chaos, as lives change and estate plans no longer provide the clear instructions they once did.

Still other clients enroll in an ongoing review plan, much like the Nielsen Law: Peace of Mind Protection plan. Which is annual maintenance plan where we review your estate documents to ensure your plan is set up the way you want and adapts to your life changes.

In Summary

Estate planning is usually at the bottom of a person’s to-do list. After it has been completed, most people do not think about it again. Do not be like most people. Estate planning is an ongoing project that requires review and attention. There is no time like the present to review your estate plan. Call our office now to get your estate planning review scheduled. As with most people, if it is on the calendar, you will make it happen. Just as you update your resume and meet with your doctor, dentist, CPA, or financial advisor regularly, you should meet with us regularly as well. We will ensure that your estate plan reflects your current needs and the needs of the people you love. Nielsen Law can help set you up for Peace of Mind. Nielsen Law PLLC provides family focused estate planning to individuals and families in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, and the Central Texas area.  For more information and to learn about our firm, please contact us.