It’s always a great feeling when a new client meets with a wills and trusts attorney in Marietta to get started on his or her estate planning. Every day, people in Marietta recognize the importance of putting a plan into place to prepare for their own futures as well as those of their heirs. Wills and trusts are two very important tools that the client and lawyer can create to protect that future. As important as that initial meeting is, however, there is still a need to follow up regularly to keep your wills and trusts updated and reflective of your current situation.
There are some times when it is obvious that your wills and trusts should be updated, but there are other times that are easier to overlook.
Major Life Changes
When there is a major change in your life, it’s time to call your Marietta wills and trusts lawyer. These types of changes, such as a marriage, divorce, or birth of a child may dramatically affect who you want to name as beneficiaries.
Health situations are also another big indicator that it’s time to update your wills and trusts. Medical care can be incredibly expensive, and you may need to rearrange your plans to accommodate the costs. If dealing with a terminal illness or potentially life-threatening treatment, it also makes sense to ensure that your plans reflect your wishes.
Many Purchases Should Trigger Updates
Wills and trusts lawyers are able to help clients lay out a plan based on what the client has at the time. When your situation changes through major purchases (or sales) of real estate or other valuable assets, you should update your estate plan to reflect those changes. You want to ensure that the asset is included in your will or protected by your trust.
Purchases of, or changes in insurance policies, will likely also lead to a call to your Marietta attorney. These purchases will affect what you have to leave behind and will need to be reflected in your estate plan.
While you may not need to make changes with your Marietta wills and trusts attorney every year, it’s still a good idea to do an annual review of all your estate planning materials. In addition to refreshing yourself on what is there, your lawyer will also be able to advise you on any laws that have recently changed that might affect decisions you’d previously made. Just reading over the documents may be enough to notice a change that needs to be made. Not only does this give you an opportunity to make sure your plans still fit your needs, but by keeping them up-to-date, you are strengthening your will against being invalidated later. After all, if you’ve worked with an attorney to keep the wills and trusts fresh and in accordance with the most recent life changes, they are likely to reflect your true intentions.
This is the fourth in a series of articles on what to expect when you work with your Atlanta estate planning lawyer. Each article will cover several of the topics that you will need to consider to make a plan that works for your needs.
In this series, we have covered estate planning considerations for incapacitation and death, and for the most part, they’ve been the more commonly thought-of items. Yet, there are some other ideas that you will want to discuss with your estate planning lawyer in Atlanta, including:
- Service Providers: In your estate plan, you may want to include a section regarding your service providers. Everything from doctors and dentists to property managers and babysitters could be included here. This gives your loved ones the opportunity to contact these service providers to let them know you won’t be working with them any longer, to clear up any outstanding bills, and to make sure that you don’t continue being billed for a service you no longer use. This might be especially important if you have service providers who are automatically paid from your bank account.
- Memberships: Memberships and subscriptions are an area that is really easy to overlook, and as mentioned above, they can cost your estate! Belonging to a gym, country club, or other kind of organization might call for dues to be taken directly from your bank account, and without knowledge to end your contract, your executor and family members won’t even realize they need to discontinue your memberships or subscriptions.
- Credit Cards and Other Debts: Having a list of credit cards and other debts makes it easier for those left behind to follow up. They’ll want to cancel various accounts, as well as to get totals owed in order to make sure your legal obligations are taken care of before the estate is distributed. Estate planning lawyers in Georgia are familiar with the laws of the state and can guide you on what is expected.
- Keys and Passwords: Most of us have areas in our lives that are somehow secured from others. In the case of your death or incapacitation, you may need to be sure that others have access to these areas. For example, you wouldn’t want to share your online banking password with just anyone, but if someone needs that information to go with their power of attorney, it needs to be accessible. Keys to safe deposit boxes, passwords to accounts, and even the code to your home security system should all be kept somewhere that they can be accessed if necessary.
- Personal Letters: The personal letter part of estate planning is really up to an individual. Some people choose to write special letters that loved ones can keep as mementos. This is a time to share your feelings, offer forgiveness if you haven’t done so in life, or to just let those around you know that you love them.
There are a whole lot of facets to estate planning, and a good estate planning lawyer in Atlanta will be able to help you go over all of these aspects and many more to determine what you need to include in your estate plan.
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