In our last entry we talked about the failure to plan. You may have breathed a sigh of relief. You may be thinking, thank goodness that discussion isn’t about me. I didn’t make the mistake of failing to plan because I already executed my estate plan. Well, this statement too must be challenged.
Many people who actually do take the time to prepare their estate plan by drafting wills etc. make a different horrible mistake. They are under the mistaken impression that they can stick their signed estate planning documents in a drawer for the next few decades under the assumption that they have a plan and that when they die their wills will handle their final affairs in an appropriate manner.
Unfortunately, this is simply not the case and is merely an extension of the same mistake of failing to plan.
An estate plan is a living and breathing entity. As such it must grow and change to remain relevant. Every person’s life is constantly growing and evolving.
You may be close to your neighbor today and tomorrow he moves across the country and you lose touch. You may be working in the mail room today and tomorrow you own the company. You may be divorced today and tomorrow you re-marry. What if you didn’t change your will to reflect the new marriage? Might you leave all your assets to your ex?
Any one of a thousand things can change in your life in an instant that require you to revisit your estate plan. Among them is a change in the Federal tax regime or the tax regime of the state in which you currently reside. The tax laws are constantly shifting, often based on the Presidential administration in power at the time. An administration that believes in higher taxes may impose a higher estate tax and lower the estate tax exemption, and visa versa.
In any case, that shift in the estate tax laws can easily and immediately render an estate plan obsolete. What is a good and solid estate plan on January 20th at noon may no longer be appropriate ten hours later when the new President delivers his victory speech and when the opponent delivers his or her concession speech.
In sum, as a living, breathing entity, your estate plan needs to be reviewed and changed periodically to fit the particular circumstances of your life and the existing and ever morphing tax laws. To simply draft a plan and forget about it is akin to plugging a leak in a dam with a piece of bubble gum.
That dam will surely burst if not consistently and properly maintained.
We invite you to contact us to learn more about estate planning and the services we offer.