It is a good idea to review your estate plan on a regular basis, not just after a major life change. Even if your circumstances have not changed, state and federal government may have enacted new laws that can have an unexpected negative impact on your existing plan.
When you perform a periodic review of your estate plan, you can check to make sure that it is comprehensive. Use the following checklist as a guide to ensure that your estate plan provides adequate protection for yourself and your family.
- Address your children’s different needs
This is especially important if yours is a blended family that includes children from one or more previous relationships, if one or more children has special needs or if one or more of your children is ineffective at managing finances.
- Protect your bequests
Even if you plan for your children’s and grandchildren’s current needs, you do not know what will happen to them in the future. They may go through a divorce or face a lawsuit. While you do not know what unfortunate circumstances may arise, you can take steps to protect their inheritance from future claims against them.
- Avoid probate
The probate process can lengthy, and the costs can be significant. Avoiding probate can spare your heirs a great deal of expense and allow them to receive their bequests more quickly.
- Plan for contingencies
A comprehensive estate plan does more than plan for your death. It also plans for unexpected contingencies in your life. For example, you may eventually need to enter a nursing home. You may someday lack the capacity to make decisions for yourself due to accident or disability.
- Discourage challenges to your estate plan
It may not be possible to prevent challenges altogether. However, a well-crafted, comprehensive estate plan can make it harder for others to question your wishes in court when you are not able to represent yourself.