It's the Season where families come together all around us. A season of joy and peace that flows seamlessly into the New Year's celebrations! It's a time of reflection and renewal. It can also be a time of review and preparation.
Throughout this year, I have reviewed countless estate plans. Plans, in most cases, drawn up by very competent attorneys. Yet, no one will review your estate plan like an elder law attorney! There was not one plan that I did not recommend some change or update! As my colleague Andy Hook always emphasizes, an elder law attorney does not sell documents! Drafting an estate plan is much more than filling in blanks on pre-printed forms. It is assessing a family situation in its proper context, then drafting the plan that best suits the needs and desires of the family.
Let me give you a couple of examples of how annual reviews are vital. Let's say you drafted your wills years ago. You have left your estate to your spouse or if the spouse has died, to your children, a fairly common occurrence. But what if your child now has children? Add to that, what if one of your grandchildren has special needs? What if your child continues to waste his money like a teenager? Will your current plan address all these contingencies?
Here's another common reason to review your estate plan, your power of attorney is out of date. By this, I mean an elder needs a different power of attorney than someone in the 30's or their 60's. Many times we have need to enact an asset protection plan for a senior in the nursing home only to find out the child's power of attorney does not give them the requisite power to enact the plan! What happens? We have to file suit in circuit court requesting a conservator be appointed and that the court approve the asset protection plan. The suit will costs thousands in legal fees and the delay in implementing the plan could result in tens of thousands of dollars lost that could have been protected!
If you have estate planning documents, we'd be happy to review them. If you do not have an estate plan in place, now is the perfect time to start 2015 off right and accomplish this essential task! Call our office to schedule an appointment to see how we can help.