Sadly, many Arizonans view estate planning as a burdensome, depressing endeavor that is better left for later. However, estate planning has considerable significance. After all, the terms laid out in an estate plan, or the lack of an estate plan, will dictate how one’s estate is distributed, which may or may not be in line with the deceased individual’s wishes. This means that loved ones may be left without the financial support they expected and the deceased individual intended.
While merely taking the first step to engage in estate planning can be a big one, it should not be the end of the estate planning journey. Instead, individuals need to be prepared to maintain their estate planning documents, including wills and trusts. Neglecting to do so can be just as catastrophic as failing to create an estate plan in the first place.
So when is it appropriate to check in on one’s estate plan? Generally speaking, these documents should be reassessed every two to five years. This will ensure that everything is in place and easily accessible to loved ones. Certain life events should trigger estate planning maintenance, too. Divorce is a big one, but so, too, is the birth of a child or grandchild. Also, the purchase of a major asset such as a house or business should prompt an individual to modify his or her estate plan to include that asset. Other major life events like the onset of a medical condition, the falling out of a relationship, the death of an identified heir or beneficiary, and new marriages can justify revisiting existing wills and trusts.
While thinking about one’s mortality is difficult to do, it is necessary to ensure that loved one’s are adequately cared for when the time comes. Competent legal professionals stand ready to help guide these individuals through the process. In our experience, as difficult as it may be to take the first steps toward creating an estate plan, those who do so experience a tremendous sense of relief.