In short, the answer is yes. It’s unrealistic to think that a piece of paper you draft, reflecting your life at a certain time, will work when your life has completely changed some years later. We’ll use the Thompson family as an example.
Meet the Thompson’s:
Meet Bill and Karen Thompson. They got their first estate plan in place when their daughter, Jessica was born 30 years ago. They updated it when their son Steve came along 4 years later. They attended one of our living trust seminars 10 years ago and got a fantastic trust-based plan in place, protecting themselves, their children, grandchildren, and dog, Beacon.
Unfortunately, the Thompson’s didn’t join a client maintenance program; instead, they elected to take on the responsibility of calling for updates themselves. Life got busy and, as you might guess, that didn’t happen.
Here’s what’s changed in their lives in the last 10 years. Jessica and Steve are now adults and through college.
1. Jessica has married and now had two daughters. One of the girls may have autism.
2. Steve is also married and is expecting his first child.
3. Karen’s mother is now living with them.
4. They bought a vacation home in Florida.
Do you think their estate plan will still work the way they want it to?
Changes in Your Own Life:
The Thompson’s have experienced a lot of changes, but those changes might be typical of what 10 years brings. Think about the changes in your life over the past 10 years—or—since you last updated your estate plan.
Here are some questions that if answered yes, should lead you towards updating your estate plan.
1. Have you moved?
2. Do you have more children or grandchildren?
3. Have you started a business, suffered health problems, or purchased a new home? Do you have new accounts and investments?
4. Do you now care for a parent, pets, or dependent children?
5. Have you remarried, gotten divorced, or retired?
6. Has someone you loved died?
7. Have friends named in your plan as trusted helpers moved away or has your relationship changed?
8. Are your children now adults and able to help you?
9. Do you want to help with grandchildren’s college or dance lessons?
10. Do you see the world in a different way?
Many things have happened in the past 10 years. Your estate plan needs to reflect the changes in your personal life, financial situation, and goals. There have also been changes in the law and we continuously learn to protect our clients in better and better ways, so the way we do things has changed.
Is Your Estate Plan Out-of-Date?
If you’ve experienced changes like the Thompsons or it’s been more than 3 to 5 years since you updated your estate plan, it’s time to come in. We’ll review your plan and chat with you about what’s been happening in your life, so we can get you and your estate plan up-to-date, reflecting where your life is now.
If you want to ensure that your family is cared for, please click here to schedule your complimentary Estate Planning Strategy Call with San Francisco’s premier estate planning attorney, Matthew J. Tuller.