A common question after completing an estate plan is how often it should be reviewed to determine if it still meets your needs. Just as you need to change the oil in your car every 5,000 miles for it to keep working, or you need to see a doctor for an annual physical to keep yourself working, so too is it important to speak to an estate planning attorney on a regular basis to ensure that the plan you have put into place still works for you and your loved ones.
As a rule of thumb, you should have your estate plan reviewed at least every two years. This is because laws and administrative procedures at the federal and state levels are constantly changing. For example, within approximately the last two years, there was legislation enacted that significantly changed the federal estate tax and a Massachusetts high court decision that clarified the process of placing a home into an irrevocable trust to preclude it from being counted as an available asset for determining eligibility for MassHealth nursing home benefits. At the writing of this blog, there is pending federal legislation that, if enacted, may significantly change the way proceeds from retirement plans are paid to surviving beneficiaries.
Changes in the law are not the only consideration for determining when to revisit a plan. Life changes require periodic review. Marriage, the birth of a child, divorce, employment changes, retirement, illness, purchasing or selling real estate, and receiving an inheritance are just some of the life changes that may necessitate review of your plan. While a good estate plan will anticipate a number of contingencies, no plan is capable of predicting all of the surprises that life has to offer. That is why it is important to keep your plans up to date.
Contact the Law Office of Brandon L. Campbell if you think it is time to review your existing plan, or if you need to start the planning process from scratch to protect you and your loved ones.