This summer I moved a just-graduated adult child into her first apartment in a big city. Her adult life is taking shape as she takes the bus to work and the commuter rail to the grocery store. Twenty years earlier, my main planning issues were identifying her guardians and saving for her future in the event that my husband and I died while she was young. Circumstances certainly have changed.
As I wrap up an estate plan with a client, I am often asked, “When will I need to update these documents?” The most honest answer is “when circumstances change.” Milestone events, both positive and negative, should cause you to reflect on whether your current estate plan suits your life. Some milestones are sudden – like a loss of a spouse or parent. Some milestones result from the progression of our lives – the birth of a child, becoming empty nesters, or retirement. In each situation, you may need to reconsider the people you have designated as your executor, guardian, or agent under a power of attorney. For example, in just a few more years it would make sense for my adult daughter to be an executor in my will or agent under my medical power of attorney, rather than one of my siblings. Just as your personal representatives may change, your financial goals may shift from growing and supporting your family to planning for your retirement and legacy giving.
External factors also can trigger an update. These include changes in the tax laws, inheriting a major asset, or dramatic changes in the value of certain assets. Due to the expansion of our Texas cities, we regularly work with landowners whose rural land has appreciated significantly requiring them to look at more sophisticated strategies for risk management, monetizing the land, and passing the land to the next generation.
We like to help individuals and families embrace changed circumstances as opportunities to improve their planning. If you are ready to update your estate plan or create your estate plan for the first time, we will provide a free, 30-minute consultation to discuss your goals and the tools for putting together an estate plan that fits your circumstances. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.