You may have made the responsible decision to execute a comprehensive estate plan, but what did you do with your estate plan once it was finished? Did you leave it to gather dust in a filing cabinet or safe deposit box? If so, it may be time to blow the dust off your existing estate plan and review it to see if any changes need to be made. The following are five circumstances that may warrant an update to your estate plan.
You moved to a different state
It is not unusual for people to move in or out of Texas. If you move to a new state it is important to review your estate plan, as state laws vary and the estate laws in your new state of residence may be different than those of your old state of residence.
The laws have changed
Over time federal and Texas estate laws may change. For example, exemption limits, gift tax laws and probate laws may not be the same now as they were years ago. It is important to stay abreast of these changes so you can modify your estate plan if necessary.
Your chosen power of attorney is no longer able to fulfill this role
In your estate plan you may have designated someone to fulfill the role of medical power of attorney. You may also have designated someone to fulfill the role of financial power of attorney. However, are these designees still able to perform these duties? If you have divorced, if a designee is no longer competent or if a designee is no longer alive you will need to select a new person to fulfill the role of power of attorney.
Your will is out of date
Your will may be the cornerstone of your estate plan, but when did you last look at it? You may have purchased new assets or given away existing assets. These changes need to be accounted for in your will. Similarly, you may have lost an heir, gotten divorced, married a new spouse or a new heir may be born. These changes should also be reflected in your will.
Your trust is not funded
Did you establish a trust as part of your estate plan? Is it funded? Assets must be transferred to the trust in order for them to be included in it at the time of your death. If you have not funded your trust or if you have new assets you want to include in your trust, now is the time to make these changes. You will also want to ensure the person you selected as trustee and your trust beneficiaries still reflects your wishes.
Estate planning in Texas
Reviewing your estate plan periodically is the key to ensuring it meets your wishes and will be enforceable when the time comes. Our firm’s webpage on estate planning in Texas may be a good resource for those who want to learn more about their rights and options.