Hopefully, you are aware of the need to have an estate plan in place. Contrary to what many people believe, this need applies whether you are 25 or 55 and whether you have a relatively modest estate or a large one. You may wonder, however, whether you really need an estate planning attorney to help you create your estate plan. The answer is “yes,” it is in your best interest to have an experienced estate planning attorney on your side when you create your estate plan. Moreover, you will likely want to review and revise that plan as you move through your life, making it even more advantageous to have an experienced estate planning attorney on your side.
Creating Your Original Estate Plan
Everyone over the age of 18 should have at least a basic estate plan in place. For most people, this means a Last Will and Testament at a bare minimum. Many people believe that when they are young an estate plan is not necessary because they have yet to make their fortune and/or they have yet to marry and start a family. While a larger estate and/or a family often calls for a more extensive estate plan, it is definitely not necessary to wait until you have a large estate and/or a family to create at least a basic estate plan. Even at a young age you have an estate that must be handled should something happen to you. Moreover, you probably care what happens to the few assets you do have. Maybe you have a few family heirlooms that you would want to keep in the family should something happen to you. Maybe you promised a favorite niece or nephew something special that you own. Whatever the reason, you undoubtedly would rather decide yourself what will happen to your assets than have the State of Missouri decide if something happens to you.
When Does Your Estate Plan Need to Be Reviewed?
Estate planning is not something that is done once and then never thought about again. On the contrary, you will want to review your estate plan on a regular basis as well as when certain life events call for a more immediate review and revision. Though there is no universal time frame, it is usually best to review your estate plan every three to five years during your working years and every five to seven years thereafter. In addition, if any of the following events occur you should review your estate plan immediately:
- Marriage or divorce – yours or that of a beneficiary
- Death or birth – of a beneficiary or that of someone who plays an important role in your estate plan such as your Executor, a Trustee, or the person you appointed as Guardian of your minor children.
- Move to another state – because many laws that govern wills, trusts, and estates are governed by state law
- Beneficiary reaching the age of majority – because now he/she can inherit directly from your estate
- Significant change in assets – small changes should be handled by an existing plan but major changes may call for a revision.
- Reaching retirement age – because your entire asset portfolio may change
The Danger of Going In Alone
At this point, you may acknowledge the need for ongoing estate planning but still be wondering why you need an estate planning attorney for that planning. In today’s electronic age it is easy to find most estate planning documents online; however, just because you can find a document doesn’t mean what you found is current or correct. The problem with many DIY legal documents is that they may not be state specific and/or may be out of date, meaning they do not reflect the current state of law. As a result, using these forms can often lead to your loved ones spending more time and money litigating during the probate of your estate than you saved by foregoing the assistance of an estate planning attorney when you prepared your estate plan.
For more information, please join us for one of our upcoming free seminars. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning in the State of Missouri, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.