The Legal Corner by Sam A. Moak: You Wouldn’t Neglect Your Resume’, Why Neglect Your Estate Plan

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The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law.  Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances.

A resume is a document that shows employers what experience, skills, and education you have, and how you might perform in a job. If you haven’t updated your resume in years, it might not accurately show your abilities. Similarly, estate plans need to be updated regularly to reflect changes in your life and the law. If you don’t update your estate plan, it might not work the way you want it to. So, just like with resumes, outdated estate plans won’t be very helpful.

Take a Moment to Reflect

Take a moment to think about all the things that have happened in your life since you last signed your Will, trust agreement, and other estate planning documents. Have there been any changes that could impact you, your helpers, or your beneficiaries? If so, then your estate plan might need to be updated to account for those changes.

Here are some examples of significant changes that would require an estate plan review and possible updates:

  • A new family member that you want to provide for in your estate plan
  • You, a trusted decision maker, or a beneficiary got married or divorced
  • A loved one passed away or is now disabled
  • You or a loved one is now suffering some health challenges
  • Your trusted decision makers is now incapacitated
  • Your financial status has changed either for better or worse
  • You, a trusted decision maker, or a beneficiary moved to a new state

Don’t Procrastinate on Estate Planning

Most people tend to put estate planning at the bottom of their to-do list and forget about it once it’s done. However, estate planning is not a one-time task, it requires ongoing attention and review. It’s important to take the time to review your estate plan regularly, just like you would update your resume or meet with your doctor or financial advisor. By doing this, you can make sure that your estate plan is up-to-date and reflects your current needs and the needs of your loved ones.

Updating your estate plan is the best way to make sure it will accomplish exactly what you want it to do.

What’s Next?

After choosing the various parties in your estate plan, and informing them of your decisions, the next phase of estate planning is to draft the legal documents and get your affairs in order.  It is essential to seek legal advice from those with experience in estate planning to draft your documents so that your loved ones do not have complications.

Sam A. Moak is an attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Moak & Moak, P.C.  He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas, is a Member of the State Bar College, and is a member of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.