If you have an estate plan in place you are better prepared than over half of all Americans, according to the most recent surveys. For that plan to continue to protect you and your loved ones as intended, however, it needs to be updated from time to time. Knowing how often to review your estate plan, and when a life event should trigger an immediate revision, is the key to a successful estate plan. As you enter your retirement years, for example, you should take the time to update your existing plan. A Vero Beach estate planning attorney at Kulas & Crawford explains three common estate plan updates for seniors.
Routine Review and Revision
Throughout the course of your life, you should conduct routine reviews of your estate plan and make any revisions necessary at that time. Most estate planning attorneys suggest routine reviews every three to five years until your children have all reached the age of majority, or around age 50 if you do not have children. After that, plan a review every five to eight years. As you get close to retiring, you should also schedule a review of your plan because retirement frequently triggers the need to update various components within your estate plan.
Updates for Seniors
While you should always consult with your estate planning attorney to determine what revisions need to be made to your estate plan, there are some common updates seniors make to their plans, including:
- Adding or updating an incapacity plan — as a senior, the odds have increased that you could become incapacitated because of Alzheimer’s or another age-related dementia condition. As much as we don’t want to dwell on the possibility, the reality is that one in three seniors dies suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. If you do become incapacitated at some point, who do you want to handle your assets and take over paying your bills for you? Who should make medical decisions for you? What about personal decisions, such as where you will live? Now is your chance to make these decisions for yourself instead of a judge making them for you later. If you have yet to do so, you also have the opportunity to execute an advanced directive that will ensure your wishes are honored regarding end-of-life medical care. You may also wish to execute a separate advanced directive that appoints someone as your health care “Agent” to make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself.
- Updating to account for a relocation — if you relocate to another state – or country – it is imperative to determine how the laws in that state or country will impact your existing estate plan. If you have a funeral component in your estate plan, you may need to make changes to that to account for the fact that you have moved as well. Purchasing real estate in another state/country must also be taken into consideration within your estate plan. Owning real estate in more than one state could require more than one probate process while owning real estate in another country may require a totally new estate plan.
- Including or updating a Medicaid plan — your odds of needing LTC increase significantly when you reach retirement age – and the cost of that care will be high. Moreover, Medicare won’t cover those costs. Neither will most private health insurance plans. Medicaid can help; however, you must first qualify for Medicaid. Qualifying for Medicaid can put your retirement nest egg at risk if you didn’t plan ahead. Now is the time to update your estate plan to ensure that you have a solid Medicaid planning component in your plan so you can afford to pay for long-term care if you need it down the road.
Contact a Vero Beach Estate Planning Attorney
To learn more, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about updating your estate plan, please contact an experienced Vero Beach estate planning attorney at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule a consultation.