When should you update your estate plan?  We focus on the Six “D”s when we work with clients and educate others.  The first “D” of when you should pull out your estate planning documents and think of whether they need to be updated or not is D = “diagnosis.”

When you are making decisions in your estate plan such as who will help you and your family manage your finances if  you cannot because you are ill, injured or incapacitated, you base those decisions on what you know at the time: who is capable of handling your finances if you cannot or who can care for your children if you cannot.

But when there is a life change for the person you have named as your agent under your financial power of attorney, as a guardian under a nomination of guardian for minor children or your executor or trustee, you may also need to make changes.

There are six reasons you should take your estate planning out of the safe, drawer, file cabinet and read them through.  Here are the six reasons:

  1. Death of someone named in your plan as a beneficiary or taking role as agent, representative, executor, trustee or guardian;
  2. Diagnosis of an illness or condition that may prevent someone from helping and doing the job you have asked them to do in your plan to assist you or your family, such as an agent, executor, trustee, guardian;
  3. Distance someone has moved to you or from you that would cause you to reconsider naming them as an agent, executor, trustee or guardian;
  4. Dividend of wealth, meaning have you or family come into significant amount of money or you have had the misfortune to lose a significant amount of money (this scenario happens at retirement, sale of a business, the death of a loved one which provided an inheritance, etc.);
  5. Day of the year you choose, such as Tax Day, an anniversary, birthday, that you will remember to pull out your estate plan and review; and
  6. Divorce of someone named in your plan which may cause you to reconsider naming them or their former spouse as an agent, executor, trustee or guardian.

We’re going to discuss “diagnosis” in this article as it is one that is commonly forgotten.

Estate planning is about ensuring you have a plan for your family.  That plan involves others stepping in to help you when something happens TO YOU.  You need to be able to rely upon those persons you have named.

Life happens to those persons, also.  They can become ill, injured and incapacitated which will likely cause them to be unable to help you and your family in whatever role you have asked them to help.   Or a loved one in their own family can become ill, injured, have a chronic illness or diagnosis which would prevent them from having the time and emotional bandwidth to help your family.

That creates potential gap in your plan, it could create a situation where no one is there to step in and help.

If one of the individuals you have named in your plan has a new diagnosis or a close family member of theirs has a new diagnosis and you feel this could prevent them from stepping into the role of agent, trustee, executor, guardian for your family, think about updating your planning to name someone else.

We help our clients in Alpharetta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Milton and other surrounding cities update their Will, Powers of Attorney, Advance Directive for Health Care, Nomination of Guardian of Minor Children, and Living Trusts.