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Prioritizing an update to an estate plan

Nevada residents are encouraged to make periodic reviews of their estate plans so that changes can be made in a timely way as needed. Many people believe that their estate planning is completed when the documents are signed and filed. However, failing to pay attention to these documents in the future could result in difficulties for surviving heirs. Research indicates that most estate plans are at least five years old, even those involving extremely sizeable estates.

Experts believe that major life events should prompt a review, particularly those such as new business ventures or divorces. These reviews are also important to ensure that changes in tax laws are considered in light of an estate plan. For those with significant assets, an annual review may be advisable to ensure that clear intent is reflected. Revisiting anyone's estate plan is important, but those with fewer assets may ignore the need due to the costs involved in adjusting these plans. Difficult decisions may also cause some to avoid the decision.

An outdated plan may result in legal challenges and disputes over its terms, and some situations can be highly publicized and difficult. Legal challenges to an estate plan can result in delays and potentially different results than intended. The advice of an estate planning lawyer may be important for addressing concerns about excluding or minimally including potential heirs. Additionally, a lawyer may schedule annual reviews to ensure that changes are addressed proactively.

Estate planning and administration allows one's wishes to be expressed in a straightforward and legal manner with regard to the distribution of assets after death. A lawyer's work on such a plan may reduce the potential for legal challenges based on attention being given to wording, details and changes.

Source: Forbes, "Why You Should Update Your Estate Plan", Russ Alan Prince, July 03, 2014

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