A recent survey found that the average time between estate plan updates was about 20 years! Many people draft their first will when the kids are small and then update it when the kids graduate and leave home. A final update may come when they retire or when they’re closer to using the death provisions of their estate plan.
The (Port Huron) Times-Herald says in its recent article, “Why you should update your estate plan,” that there are many reasons to update your estate plan. There are both financial and non-financial personal reasons. There are births, deaths, disabilities, weddings, divorces and retirements. These are all reasons to update your plan. There are also changes in the laws impacting estate plans.
The basics. At a minimum, your essential estate planning documents are a will, a financial power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. Some people also benefit from a trust.
Your financial and health care powers of attorney are combined. In many states, the health care power of attorney statute is separate and distinct from the financial power of attorney statute. Each of them has different requirements, like such as when they become effective and who can be a witness. There are different documents to be signed by your financial and health care agents. If you don’t have separate financial and health care powers of attorney, speak with an experienced estate planner who will prepare your estate plan legally and properly.
Your power of attorney doesn’t have a signed acknowledgment or acceptance. In some states, your financial agents in your financial power of attorney are required to sign a one or two-page statutory acknowledgment form that they’re acting on your behalf.
Your health care power of attorney doesn’t include these provisions:
- Patient Advocate: Appoint a patient advocate and two backups to make medical and mental health care decisions when you are unable to do so.
- Mental health care powers: This allows your patient advocate to make mental health care decisions, such as those concerning dementia, anxiety or depression.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Appoint your patient advocate as your HIPAA representative so they have access to your medical records, can speak with your health care providers, and sign releases of those records to other health care or insurance providers.
- An anatomical gift or organ donation: You can include this as a power for your patient advocate.
- Living will provision: the instructions that you have for when to withhold or withdraw artificial means of life support at end-of-life.
Your trust isn’t fully funded. If you have a trust, it should be fully funded now while you’re alive and well, not after you are gone, and your beneficiaries are using the probate court process. It involves putting your titled your assets in the name of the trust.
There are many reasons why you may want to review your estate planning documents and work with an experienced estate planning attorney. They include staying in control of your assets while you’re alive and well, providing for you and your loved ones in case of your mental disability, and when after you pass, directing your assets as you wish.
Reference: The (Port Huron) Times-Herald (June 30, 2017) “Why you should update your estate plan”