One way to explain servicing your trust or estate plan is to compare it to your vehicle’s maintenance. We all know our cars require regular, preventative servicing in order to operate correctly and be reliable when we need them. The vehicle’s owner’s manual has a recommended schedule for service, based on either how many miles you drive or based on the amount of time that has passed. After a certain number of miles or certain amount of time your car will need an oil change, engine tune-up and tire rotation. Newer cars have “service due” lights that come on to alert you that it is time to service your vehicle. Either way, it is pretty easy to know when it is time to service your vehicle. If you continue driving your car without servicing it, it is almost guaranteed that your car will lose its reliability and not work when you need it. You could end up stuck on the side of the freeway.
Like a vehicle, your estate plan needs “servicing” if it is going to perform the way you want when you need it. These are preventative measures. Think of your estate plan as a composite snapshot of you, your family, your goals, your assets and the various laws in effect at the time it was created. All of these factors can change over time, and your plan should adapt to those changes. It is unreasonable, irresponsible and actually dangerous to assume your plan, written years ago, will be effective today without proper maintenance and adjusting.
Now, how do you determine when it is time to give your estate plan a check-up? Like a car that has mileage checkpoints or time intervals, your estate plan has event checkpoints. Generally, an important change in your personal, family, financial or health situation, or a change in applicable laws, could prompt the need for an appropriate tune-up to your estate plan. It is a good idea to review your Event Checklist and Estate Plan checklist once a year.
If you are uncertain as to whether or not you need to tune-up your estate plan, something big in your life has changed (birth, death, divorce, winning the lottery), or just have a question, please give us a call 818.887.9401.