How to Update Your Estate Plan
By: Brittany Seemuth
Estate Planning Assistant, O'Leary-Guth Law Office, S.C.
Hi everyone. It’s me again, Brittany, estate planning assistant at O’Leary-Guth Law Office, S.C. I blogged in June about How to Get Started on an Estate Plan. Another frequently asked question I encounter is “How to Update” an estate plan. Understanding the update process is helpful for clients to know what to expect and how to get started.
An estate plan should be reviewed and updated when there are changes in your family, your wishes, and/or the law. A good rule of thumb is to review and discuss your estate plan with an estate planning attorney at least every five years to consider whether any updates are needed. However, sometimes an estate plan should be updated sooner, such as, if you move out of state, get married, get divorced, have children, or your children become adults.
Sometimes, estates plans can be updated with a fairly simple amendment, such as if you’ve recently signed an estate plan with our office and just need to change an agent name, or a small bequest. Other times, a more thorough update may be necessary. Our estate planning attorneys will help you evaluate what needs to be done and discuss options with you.
Practically, updating your estate plan can be summarized in the following four steps:
Step One – Reach Out. First, contact us. You can call me at (262) 238-6996, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I will then send you a Personal Information Form to complete. You may have filled one out years ago, but it is important we confirm that we have the most recent contact information for you and your family, and the most current snapshot of your situation for our attorneys to review.
We can send you the Personal Information Form in the mail, or electronically as a fillable PDF. Whatever is easiest for you, works for us! Just let us know your preference. It is important that this form is filled out as completely as possible, as this information is used to assess your estate planning needs, as well as to prepare estate planning documents. However, if any of the questions seem inapplicable to your situation or you are unable to answer, feel free to pass on the question and we can discuss at your update meeting.
Step Two – Update Meeting. Once you have returned your completed Personal Information Form, I will be in contact with you to schedule your update meeting and confirm the fee for the update meeting. The update meeting fee includes the time the attorney spends reviewing your existing documents and Personal Information Form prior to the meeting, evaluating recommendations for your estate plan, and meeting with you to discuss your current objectives and potential updates.
If you decide at the end of your update meeting that revisions to your existing estate planning documents are necessary, the attorney can provide you with a fee estimate for the cost of drafting the updated documents; however, there is no obligation to move forward or to make any updates after the update meeting, unless you choose to do so.
Step Three – Review your Documents. If you choose to move forward, our attorneys will draft your updated estate planning documents and I will send you a draft for your review. You can take your time reviewing the drafts after they arrive. We are always happy to help if you have questions, or changes you would like made to your drafts.
Step Four – Sign Your Documents. Once your updated documents meet with your approval, we ask that you contact us to schedule your signing appointment. At that meeting, you will sign the documents that make up your estate plan in the presence of two witnesses and notary, all of whom will be members of our team.
Think of your estate plan like a photograph; it should be a snapshot of your current affairs -- and like editing a photo, we can help you edit the snapshot of your life any time. Email or call us to find out how O’Leary-Guth Law Office or The Milwaukee Company can be of service to you.