Livens & Reed, PLLC

Estate planning should be an ongoing process

Statistics from the AARP reveal that almost 60 percent of people from Texas and elsewhere around the country do not have a will in place. Given a will's importance, the omission of one is often considered to be the biggest mistake made in estate planning. However, having just a will alone is likely not enough. It is imperative to routinely review and revise estate planning documents at several crucial times.

Experts suggest making updates at several crucial times. Certainly, financial advisers recommend a review of one's estate plan if it was developed over three years ago. Tax laws or other regulations may have changed that could have a significant impact on a plan. Since each state has unique estate planning laws, a move to another state would also warrant a review. This is particularly important if some of the assets, such as property, remain in the former state after the move.

Plans should be updated if additional people should be included, such as a new spouse, children or grandchildren. Likewise, others may need to be removed from documents if a divorce occurred. In some instances, a person's asset values may have changed. Other assets may have been sold or added to an estate. Changes of these types could affect the division of property in the future.

It is important to also review designated beneficiaries within the estate plan as well as on any specific retirement plan forms, such as for a 401(k) or IRA. Often, circumstances have changed since the trustees or executors were specified in estate documents. It would be wise to make sure those listed are still best suited to conduct these duties.

Estate planning is a complex process and each plan will be unique to a specific individual. A Texas attorney familiar with estate administration will guide clients through the process of developing a plan that meets their needs. A comprehensive estate plan will provide assurance that one's assets will be distributed and other directives will be carried out as intended.

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