Posted on February 24, 2013 11:29 PM

Many people have existing wills and trusts which they have not updated for a long time. However, it is imperative to review an estate plan periodically to ensure that it is still appropriate.

The laws periodically change as do the personal situations of every individual.  For example, powers of attorney for healthcare and property were amended on July 1, 2012 by the Illinois General Assembly.  These documents should be revised to reflect the recent changes in the law.

Some personal situations where an estate plan should be updated include, but are not limited to the following: after moving to a new home, after the birth, death, or adoption of a child, after the death of a spouse or beneficiary, after a marriage, after a divorce, prior to surgery, after the diagnosis of a serious illness or after a great increase or decrease in one’s financial circumstances.

The age or health of a beneficiary may also warrant updating your documents.  For example, if you are leaving your estate to minor children, you may not want them to receive all of your assets at once.  Also, if you are leaving assets to a disabled beneficiary, great caution must be exercised to ensure government benefits are not terminated as the result of an inheritance.

It is extremely important to retain an attorney who concentrates in estate planning.  An estate plan should be customized to an individual’s circumstances and goals.  Unfortunately, many wills and trusts are written by attorneys who have an inadequate understanding of this area of law.  The consequence of having poorly drafted or obsolete documents can be devestating to clients and their beneficiaries.  Therefore, estate planning documents need to be reviewed on a regular basis.