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Estate Planning Check-In (Part II)

It is important if you have your estate plan done, to review the documents periodically to make certain that your wishes are still valid.

First, if you have written on the originals (such as crossing out an address, and writing in a new address) any word or made any mark of any type, you most likely have invalidated the document. If the originals have writing or marks on them that were done after they were signed, you will need to redo them, and re-execute them.

Second, make certain that you have all of the pages of the documents. You need to go through your documents page-by-page and make certain that you have each and every page. If you do not have each and every page, you need to contact your attorney. If your attorney does not have a copy (most attorneys only keep copies for seven (7) years), then you will need to redo the documents, and re-execute them. Third, if you have had children since you executed your will and/or trust, make certain that your subsequently born children are included as your descendants in your will and/or trust if that is your wish. Some will and/or trust documents do not automatically include subsequently born children. Therefore, you will want to have your will and/or trust reviewed to make certain that you have not unintentionally disinherited your subsequent born children.

Fourth, if your children are still minors (defined for purposes of guardians as under the age of 18), and you named a couple as the guardians for your children, make certain that the couple are still married (and not separated). We recommend that individuals do not name couples as guardians. The primary reason is because if the couple gets divorced that subjects your children to another significant loss, which is exacerbated if there is a custody and/or parenting time battle between the guardian couple in their dissolution of marriage matter. If you have named a couple as guardians of your minor children, we highly recommend that you amend your will to only chose one. In addition, if you do not have a successor guardian named in your will, we recommend that you name a successor guardian.

Fifth, if your children have emancipated (this is true even if your child is 18 and still in high school), we recommend that they have at a minimum, a health care directive and a power of attorney. An unfortunate common fact pattern is your adult child getting into an accident, and you not being to receive information or conduct necessary financial tasks because you do not have a health care directive and power of attorney providing you with authority to act.

Sixth, make certain that your wishes as to whom should obtain your assets are still true today as the date that you executed your estate planning documents.

Last, but not least (note: this article is not an exhaustive list), make certain that your beneficiary designations are accurate. If you have as your beneficiary designation, your estate as the beneficiary, then that asset will be probated, and that asset will be subject to creditors.

Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP assists business owners and individuals with their estate planning, including wills, trusts, health care directives and power of attorneys, as well as advice regarding probate, beneficiary designation and other issues related to estate planning.  

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legaladvice and should not be construed as legal advice.