Guide To Updating Your Estate Plan

Legal Article

Guide To Updating Your Estate Plan

What time is the right time to update your estate plan?

Updating your estate plan is different for everyone. Ideally, estate plan an estate plan, including the documents, titling of assets, and beneficiary designations, should be reviewed annually. Items that should be considered when reviewing your estate plan include the following: who you have designated as your primary choice and secondary choice for your Personal Representative, your Trustee and Successor Trustee, your primary and secondary selection for Health Care Agent, your primary and secondary selection for Financial Power of Attorney, your primary and secondary selection for HIPAA Agent, your designation of primary and successor Guardian for Minor Children, and your beneficiary designations including friends, family, charitable organizations, civic groups and contingent beneficiaries. In addition, we advise that you review your broader fiduciary designations, including designation of  Trust Advisor, Trust Manager/Protector and accounting and brokerage professionals.

4 Key Events to Update Your Estate Plan

A. Change in Personal Circumstances. Such changes include the birth of a child, your marriage, divorce, or remarriage of you and/or your children, the disability of a beneficiary, or marriage of a child to an untrustworthy spouse.

B. Change in Assets. This includes any changes in income or assets, including receipt of an inheritance or substantial gift. Titling of assets is important. If new assets are acquired, it is important to review whether they should be in the name of the husband, the wife, or in a living trust for either or both spouses.

C. Beneficiary Designations. Beneficiary designations should be reviewed on an annual basis. Life insurance, annuities, and retirement plans do not pass under a Will or a Trust, but pass by beneficiary designation. If the designation is incorrect, your plan will be defeated.

D. Personal Representative. Annually review the persons you have designated as Personal Representative and Successor Personal Representative, Trustee and Successor Trustee, Health Care Representative and Successor Health Care Representative, and Agent under Power of Attorney and Successor Agent under Power of Attorney. Has your relationship with any of these people changed? Are the named persons still willing and able to perform their duties?

E. Changes in Law that Affect your Estate Planning. Seldom does a year go by without some change, major or minor, in laws that affect estate planning. By reviewing your estate plan annually, compliance with new laws can be assured.

Additional resources provided by the author

Peter D. Antonoplos, Esq. is a partner in the Law Firm of Antonoplos & Associates. Mr. Antonoplos’ practice focuses on estate planning, real estate, probate and business & corporate law matters. For more content from Mr. Antonoplos regarding estate plans, check out our blog. Mr. Antonoplos is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, New York State, and the State of Maryland. Mr. Antonoplos routinely lectures on real estate, estate planning, probate and business & corporate law issues in Washington, D.C. and New York. Mr. Antonoplos is a graduate of Yale University and Georgetown University. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and children. He is an avid chess player and motorcycle enthusiast. He may be reached at 202-803-5676 or