Maybe you executed a Last Will and Testament when the kids were little back in 1985. It must be floating in the back of the closet somewhere, right? Oh wait, you moved, and where did you put those Wills? If this resonates with you, it may be time to update your estate plan. Even if you haven’t lost track of your Wills, there are more than enough reasons to consider an update:
1. You Moved States
If you move across state lines, typically your estate plan will be legally valid in the new state. The issue is that Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney are state specific and are governed by each state’s own state law. Each state law may have variations or unique rules imposed. Meaning, when you move, you should have an estate planning attorney in your new state look over your documents and advise if anything needs an update. For example, in Arizona, we have a “Mental Health Power of Attorney” that other states do not have.
2. You Got Divorced
Even though most states say that an ex-spouse can no longer inherit from you, there are other considerations as well. Did you name your ex-spouse or your in-laws in your documents? Did you have joint documents? Did you update your beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement accounts? These are all items you want to discuss with your estate planning attorney as soon as possible.
3. Your Estate Plan is Old
If you created your original Will in 1985 and your choice of Trustee at that time was your mother, who is now 92 years old, it may be time for an update. Many times, the impetus to update an estate plan is because the client knows that the person(s) chosen to serve as Agent, Trustee, or Personal Representative are no longer the best fit for the job. Additionally, laws change all the time. Notably, in Arizona, we adopted the Arizona Trust code in 2009. Further, since 2010 the estate and gift tax limits have increased substantially, and as a result, your old Trust language may be outdated and unable to achieve the best results. Most recently, major legislation regarding retirement assets was just made effective in 2020. These are all good reasons to check in with your estate planning attorney every few years.
4. Your Assets Changed
Have you bought or sold real property, sold a business, started a business, or otherwise had a significant change in your assets? These are all important reasons to revisit your testamentary wishes.
5. Your Kids Grew Up
Maybe when your kids were young, you set a certain age limit for when they may assume control of their inheritance. Perhaps now it is time to update the terms for how your grown children may receive their share of their inheritance. Do you intend to make provisions for grandchildren? Have you thought about leaving a child’s share in trust for purposes of protecting it from their future creditors or divorce? These are compelling reasons to consider revisiting the terms of your estate plan.
To have an attorney provide a complimentary review of your estate planning documents, and advise whether an update may be in order, contact us today. Whether we are starting from scratch, or reviewing an existing plan, we offer complimentary estate planning consultations.
-Megan Selvey, Esq.