Estate planning documents should be reviewed periodically

There are numerous reasons for an individual to review his or her estate plan periodically for changes, additions, subtractions or modifications. This is true for residents of Texas as well as those who reside in other states. Estate planning is an exceptionally beneficial legal process. It serves to protect and assure the wishes of the individual, along with maximizing resources and utilizing the options available for effective tax planning.

However, the plan can evolve and change as life circumstances evolve and change. For a person who has no estate plan in effect, the best approach is to consult with the appropriate financial and legal professionals and determine what steps to take. For those who have a plan, it’s recommended that it be reviewed periodically for accuracy and maximum effectiveness.

Laws can change, and that sometimes results in the necessity of changing the estate plan. Moreover, many planning instruments, such as a life insurance policy or an investment account, have provisions to name a beneficiary. The proceeds go to the named beneficiary at the owner’s death.

These items should be reviewed to make sure that the right beneficiaries are still in place. Wishes can change over time. The beneficiary may be deceased or no longer involved in the person’s life. To keep current, a periodic review of estate planning documents every few years is necessary.

With respect to one’s simple will, living will, and power of attorney, a person should make sure that the appointments that were made are still desired and relevant. Wills require the appointment of a personal representative to handle the maker’s estate at death. It’s critical that the right person is appointed. Divorce, death and other life changes can make a prior appointment in the will obsolete or otherwise in need of change.

By keeping one’s estate planning documents up-to-date considerable expenses and potential heartache can be avoided. Texas residents will benefit by following these common sense procedures. In addition to the above, it’s also important to meet with financial and legal professionals to make sure that all of the financial and retirement planning approaches that were once made continue to be valid and effective.

Source: Danvers Herald, "Money matters: Avoid problems by updating beneficiary designations", John Mitchell, May 25, 2014

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