The estate planning documents that you draft will theoretically determine what happens to you if you have medical emergencies as you age and to your property when you die. Estate plans protect vulnerable family members from abandonment and your assets from creditor claims.
Many people make it a habit to routinely update and review their estate planning documents throughout their lives. They do this to ensure that the paperwork they leave behind is enforceable and up-to-date. If it has been many years since you drafted your estate planning documents, you may be an ideal candidate for a review in the near future.
Will you have to worry about any of your estate documents expiring after you create them?
Certain plans may not age well
Some documents may require updates or may need you to completely rewrite them due to changes in your life or the law. If, for example, you planned to fund a Special Needs Trust for your child with Down Syndrome using a term life insurance policy, that funding will only take place if you die before the term for the policy passes. If you live longer than that, you won’t receive anything from the insurance company despite years of payments.
On the other hand, if you created your powers of attorney documents years ago and your attorney used outdated language, your powers of attorney may not be durable and therefore will not persist if you become permanently mentally incapacitated in a legal sense. Generally speaking, however, wills, trusts and advanced directives will not expire even if decades have passed since you first drafted those documents.
Older documents may not protect you very well
The longer it has been since you created your estate plan, the more likely it is that your property, your income or your relationships will have changed substantially. The average person may benefit from reviewing their estate plan every few years and from reaching out to their estate planning lawyer to advise them of any big changes, like a divorce in the works.
From attaching alternate resources as funding to the trust once connected to your term life insurance policy to drafting new and durable powers of attorney or designating new beneficiaries in your will, there are numerous ways that you can update your estate plan and ensure that it remains valid and enforceable.