Perhaps you enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when you have completed something difficult but important. You may have experienced that feeling when your child graduated from college or when you paid off your own student loans or your mortgage. Many people have this feeling when they have completed their estate plan, having protected their assets and provided some comfort and stability for their families.
Unfortunately, creating an estate plan is only the beginning of providing that protection and stability. Whether you wrote your will and signed your powers of attorney decades in the past or only a few years ago, failing to revisit your plan periodically can leave dangerous gaps that may lead to confusion and conflict at the end of your life and after your passing.
Does your plan have these problems?
An outdated or incomplete estate plan has the potential to cause more damage than having no plan at all. Undoubtedly, many changes have occurred in the years since you created your will, established your trust and selected those people who would speak in your name. You may have new opinions about your assets, your family dynamic may have changed or the estate planning laws in Arizona may be different. Some of the common issues with estate plans include the following:
- Beneficiaries, executors or trustees who have died or are no longer members of your family, such as an ex-spouse
- New family members that you neglected to include in your estate plan, such as grandchildren or a new spouse
- No plan for your sentimental or personal items, such as an engagement ring or family heirlooms
- A move to a new state with different estate planning laws, such as the requirements for a valid will or powers of attorney
- Loss of confidence in the people you have chosen to execute your will or assume power of attorney
- Failure to update beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance and pay-upon-death accounts, especially after divorce or the death of a beneficiary
Many find peace of mind in naming a professional, such as an attorney, to handle the matters of executing an estate or serving as trustee for a trust. You can discuss these matters with your attorney when you meet to review and revise your estate plan. Making these important updates can save your family months of frustration and expense that may result from disputes that arise over your outdated estate plan.