Congratulations! You have an estate plan. You are done. You have a nice, new, shiny binder full of paperwork that you may or may not understand. You, or your attorney, have sent deeds off to the various County recorders’ office to change title. You have even gone down to the bank and changed your bank accounts into the name of the trust, or other estate planning vehicle that you may have set up. So now what?
It is my strongest recommendation that you sit down and review your estate plan with your estate planning attorney at least annually. You should also meet with your estate planning attorney whenever there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of your life such as death or adoption of a child, the death of a spouse, the acquisition of new significant assets, or the desire to divest yourself of assets or change assets classification such as liquidating a home to purchase an RV.
You should also review your estate plan if your planning was done while you still had minor children. Perhaps you should amend and name one of your children as successor trustee.
If there has been a significant change in the lives of one of your children you should review your plan. Many times, a child develops difficulties, such as addiction, divorce, or bankruptcy that may require some adjustments to your estate plan. This will prevent your assets from being wasted or seized by being given outright to that particular child out of the trust upon your death.
One of the most expensive and difficult things for many people is not having reviewed their estate plan on a regular basis. After one spouse passes away and there have been substantial changes, it can be time consuming and expensive to restore things to the original intent of the plan. It may involve the costs and delays of probate. Many of these expenses can be avoided with regular plan reviews and updates.
I know of some law firms that regularly charge their clients an annual maintenance fee by getting approval ahead of time to charge their credit card on the anniversary of the estate plan creation. I will be glad to do this if you would like. This is a good reminder come in and review your estate plan and any significant changes in your life. I would be happy to set this up for you.