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Estate planning should be revisited yearly

Estate planning can be tricky business. When an individual has a lot of money or other assets to leave, drafting the proper documents, following proper procedures, and working with people you can trust are essential. A mistake in any of these areas can lead to unintended, tragic consequences that may leave family members without family property. One way to avoid problems such as a will contest or probate litigation is to update estate planning yearly. There are several reasons why this may be in the planner's best interest.

First, there may be changes in the family. Babies may be born, relatives may die, or there may be marriages and divorces that reshape the family. These events may change how a planner wants to leave his assets, but these changes will not be recognized unless memorialized in a Will.

The second reason one may want to revisit their estate plan is changes in financial circumstances. The planner may have obtained money or other assets or, alternatively, may have lost some assets. By taking a yearly look at the estate plan, the planner can decide who gets these assets and newly obtained personal property, thereby avoiding probate.

Third, there may have been changes in the law that directly affect the estate and the way the estate may be planned and distributed. These changes may be tax related or may relate to other aspects of estate planning such as powers of attorney and powers of appointment. Therefore, discussing the plan with an estate planning attorney will ensure the will, trust, or other document is drafted in a way that satisfies the planner's wishes.

Estate planning can be difficult and detailed. Even a minor slipup can throw a wrench into the process and lead to an outcome the planner never intended. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance a planner discuss his estate with an estate planning attorney on a yearly basis. Then, the planner can rest assured his estate is settled to his wishes and his family will be taken care of accordingly.

Source: The Times Herald, "Matt Wallace: Don't forget to update your estate planning," Matthew Wallace, Aug. 5, 2013

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