Every so often, a survey (like this 2017 survey from Caring.com) suggests that a solid majority of Americans do not have a will or other estate plan in place. Estate planning attorneys like those at Dawes Legal, LLC want people to know about the many benefits and the peace of mind that having even a power of attorney can bring – both for the individual and for his or her family and loved ones. It would be a major victory in the eyes of many estate planning lawyers if more Americans had some sort of estate plan in place than not, although this appears to be a pipe dream for the time being.
The Hypothetical Over-Planner
Suppose, though, that there was a very diligent and concerned individual who was worried about the preservation of her assets’ value and the disposition of her property after her death. This woman had her first estate plan created when she first turned eighteen years old and has routinely modified that plan or created an entirely new plan every three years since. She does not always visit with an attorney, especially when she is making only minor changes to her will or power of attorney. She is now 80 years old and, as a result, has had dozens of estate plans and/or estate plan modifications. Is this the ideal?
Dangers of Over-Thinking an Estate Plan
The obvious danger that this hypothetical woman faces is that her heirs may have trouble deciphering which version of her will is the true and correct one that should be admitted into probate. (Similarly, if she becomes incapacitated, it may be difficult to uncover which power of attorney is the correct and enforceable one.) While wills, powers of attorney, trust documents, and other estate planning documents can all be modified or replaced during a person’s lifetime, there are certain precautions one would want to take. These include:
- Clearly indicating in the new will, trust, or document that the new document is meant to supersede the old document and that the old document is no longer valid.
- Destroying the old documents, or at least keeping them separate from the new ones you would like to have enforced.
- Informing your attorney, your executor, your power of attorney, and/or trusted family members or friends that you have made a change in your estate plan.
By making frequent changes – especially ones that may not be necessary – one runs the risk of his or her loved ones getting into a prolonged legal battle when it comes time for a power of attorney to come into effect or a will to be admitted into probate. This defeats the purpose of having an estate plan in the first place.
How Often Should You Change Your Ohio Estate Plan?
While you shouldreviewyour estate plan periodically, you may not need to changeor updateyour estate plan unless there is a significant event that has recently happened. Getting married, having a child or adopting a child, buying real estate, inheriting valuable property, and similar events are good cause for reviewing your estate plan and making changes, if necessary. However, if there have been no significant changes in your life or in your final wishes, there may be little reason to modify your estate plan.
Get Professional Assistance from a Columbus, Ohio Estate Planning Attorney
The estate planning lawyers at Dawes Legal, LLC want you and your loved ones to experience the benefits of a well-thought out estate plan. Whether you have never created a will or power of attorney before or it’s been years since you looked at your last estate plan, we want to make the process simple and understandable. Where you need a new plan or updates, we will ensure your estate plan reflects your current reality and desires. Where your existing estate plan is sufficient, we will tell you so. Call our office at (614) 733-9999 and set up a consultation with our team to discuss your estate planning questions.