If you have an estate plan in place, you are doing better than the majority of Americans. Surveys tell us that over half of all Americans have yet to create an estate plan, despite understanding the importance of having one in place. Creating your initial estate plan is only step one though. Reviewing and revising that plan is equally important. The Vero Beach elder law attorneys at Kulas & Crawford urge all seniors to take the time to review their current estate plan and make any necessary revisions. Having an out of date estate plan in place can be just as problematic as not having one at all.
Why Is Estate Planning Necessary?
If you have an estate plan in place, you are hopefully already aware of the reasons why estate planning is necessary; however, it doesn’t hurt to go over them again when discussing the need to review your estate plan. Your estate plan can – and should – do much more than simply provide for the distribution of your estate assets when you are gone. A well thought out plan can also help those assets grow over the course of your lifetime and ensure that they provide for loved ones if something happens to you. In addition, your estate plan can help you plan for the possibility of your own incapacity or the need for long-term care as well as the certainty of your own retirement.
Why Is It Important for Seniors to Update Their Estate Plans?
Your estate plan is not something you create and then forget about for the rest of your life. As you move through the various stages of your life, your estate plan should be revised to accommodate the changes that occur during those stages. To make sure that your plan is up to date, you should schedule a routine review every three to five years during your working years. In addition, events such as marriage or divorce, the birth of a child, or starting a business are all causes for an unscheduled review and update to your existing estate plan.
When you enter your retirement years, a review of your estate plan should take place for a number of reasons, including:
- Income – your income will typically decrease when you reach retirement age. The change in income may cause changes in your estate plan.
- Assets – your asset structure is likely to change when you enter your retirement years. You may start withdrawing from retirement accounts, pay off major debts, and/or sell major assets.
- Beneficiaries – your primary beneficiaries (usually children) have likely reached the age of majority by now. If you have not yet addressed this fact in your estate plan, now is the time to do so.
- Long-term care – when you enter your retirement years you stand a 50-50 chance of needing long-term care (LTC) before your death. Every year those odds increase. The cost of that care could deplete your retirement nest egg in a matter of months if you failed to plan for the possibility that you would need LTC by including Medicaid planning in your comprehensive estate plan.
- Relocation – like many retirees, you may decide to relocate permanently to another state. Because state laws govern most legal issues relating to wills, trusts, and estates as well as the probate of your estate, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced estate planning attorney soon after you move if you relocate to another state to ensure that any changes that need to be made are handled.
- Fiduciaries – finally, you need to review your choice of fiduciaries. As you age, so will your fiduciaries. If you appointed people your age to fiduciary positions within your plan, you need to be aware of the fact that they are also now enjoying their “Golden Years.” They may have another 20 or 30 years left that they can serve in those positions; however, physical and mental deterioration could also become an issue that you will need to address.
Contact Vero Beach Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about updating your estate plan or wish to get started on your review, contact the experienced Vero Beach elder law attorneys at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule an appointment.