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When it’s Time for an Estate Plan Check-Up

Picture of By: Chris Soto

By: Chris Soto

Christopher D. Soto is an estate planning attorney who specializes in personalized plans for individuals, families, and businesses. He emphasizes the importance of planning for the future and maintains expertise through education and contributions to the field. With a JD from Arizona State University College of Law, he is licensed in Arizona. Mr. Soto is also a contributing author for WealthCounsel® Estate Planning Strategies, and is inspired by his dedication to his own family in his work to protect other families’ legacies.

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“Like your preventive doctor visits, you should regularly check in on your estate plan to ensure that it’s in good shape for when it’s needed.”

For most Arizonans, estate planning includes preparing a revocable trust, last will and testament, and important advance directives to prepare for incapacity, including a General Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care and Mental Health Care Power of Attorney. Creating a comprehensive estate or updating an estate plan is on many people’s “to-do” lists, says a recent article from Kiplinger, “Estate Plan Check-Ups: Don’t Just Set It and Forget It.” Like most items on those never-ending lists, the goal is to get it done and move on to the next task. However, unlike some duties, the estate plan needs to be reviewed regularly.

Think of taking care of your estate plan as you do your annual physical, a necessary process to ensure your ongoing health, even if you don’t perceive the need for immediate intervention. Your estate plan may be healthy now. However, you want to be sure it stays that way by having check-ups on a regular basis. If you have not gone for your physical or had your estate plan reviewed in a while, there are two appointments you need to make for 2024—one with your physician and the other with your estate planning attorney. Here is why:

Life is all about changes, from birth to death, marriage to divorce. Each of these life events may impact your estate plan. If your plan was designed and executed before you were married or had children, it needs an update. The same is true if a beneficiary of your estate has proven to be less than responsible about money or choosing good friends. Many times outdated plans rely heavily on family members and friends that are no longer the best choice to serve in key roles because of their advancing age or other life changes.

In addition to changes in your own life, laws impacting estate plans change often. Shifts in tax laws, estate planning regulations and inheritance rules could have already made your estate plan ineffective or invalid. Regular reviews with your estate planning attorney can ensure that your estate plan factors in any challenges presented by these changes and takes advantage of new opportunities that present themselves.

While formal revisions to your estate plan documents are often necessary to capture the changes in the law and your own life, it is important to also ensure that any beneficiary designations directing your assets are checked whenever you update your estate plan. If you do not, you may be passing assets onto ex-spouses, excluding new family members, or providing for your chosen beneficiary in a less protective manner. Set up your appointment at Soto Law Firm today to create your new estate plan or check-up on your existing one, even if it was previously drafted through another office or in a different state. By regularly updating your estate plan, you can ensure that it reflects the changing tides in your life and will be effective in protecting your loved ones.

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