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Topic: Periodic Review of State Plans


By Milton Babirak, JD, LLM      |      Babirak Carr, PC     |     Sterling, VA

Estate planning is a process, not an event. If you have an estate plan, it’s a good idea to review it every once in a while. Under what circumstances should you review it? How often? These are important questions. Frequently, I see clients who have estate plans that are many years old but not reviewed. Ten or fifteen years is not uncommon. Yet, we all would agree that it is important to review these documents because things change.


Three Circumstances to Review Your Estate Plan

Family. Certainly, one time to review your estate plan is if there is a change in your family circumstances. A death, a birth, a serious illness or accident may prompt a person. It may be a relative or friend who passes away or is diagnosed with an illness. Sometimes a client is planning a trip abroad and wants to review their estate plan. Importantly, you will be aware of changes in your family. If they happen, you can take action.


Finances. Another time to review your estate plan is if there is some substantial change in your financial circumstances. You win the lottery or go become insolvent. You can get a new job with a substantial increase in pay. You can inherit money from a parent or other relative. You will know these circumstances, too, and you can act to review your estate plan.


Change in the Law. Another important time to review your estate plan is if there is a change in the law. The change could be in federal estate tax law or it might be state law governing the substance of wills, trusts, durable powers and related documents. Occasionally, the popular press will report on federal estate tax issues. During the recent Presidential campaign, there has been some talk of bringing back the federal estate tax for most middle-class Americans. But, by and large, changes in estate and trust law are unreported by the newspapers and magazines. You may not know about these changes and you’re going to need to ask your estate planning lawyer about this.


How Often to Review Your Estate Plan?

Older or infirmed clients should review their estate plans more frequently. It might be prudent for the very elderly or infirmed to annually review. Younger clients may want review their estate plans every few years.

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