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The Importance of Regular ‘Check Ups’ for Your Estate Plan

The Importance of Regular ‘Check Ups’ for Your Estate Plan
By []Rich Lynn

Many people visit their doctors at least once a year to undergo a “check up” of their physical health. Unfortunately, too many people overlook the importance of doing a regular check on the well-being of their estate plans. Proper estate planning involves more than just creating a plan once and doing nothing more. To ensure that your plan is still in peak condition, it needs periodic check ups, just like you.

One real-world example of the downside an out-of-date plan can have was the estate plan of Warren Hillman. Hillman married his second wife in 1996. Hillman named her as the beneficiary of his life insurance policy. Two years later, the couple divorced. In 2002, Hillman married his third wife. The husband died suddenly six years later. The wife filed the necessary paperwork to receive the insurance death benefit but, to her dismay, the insurer notified her than the beneficiary paperwork on the policy still listed the ex-wife as the beneficiary. The husband had never updated the beneficiary designation paperwork since naming the sEcond wife more than a decade earlier.

Last year, the US Supreme Court agreed with that the ex-wife was the proper beneficiary because the death benefit paperwork naming her was legally controlling. Certainly, most people’s estate planning goals include leaving their wealth to their spouses and not to their former spouses. Hillman’s plan did not accomplish this goal. This unintended outcome, as well as all the court litigation that followed the man’s death, could have been avoided if he’d have simply made sure that his estate plan underwent an occasional check up.

At a minimum, you should have to your plan checked any time a major life event (such as a death in the family, birth in the family, marriage or divorce) occurs. When checking up on your estate plan, it is also important to remember that your plan includes much more than just your will or living trust. Reviewing (and updating as needed) your powers of attorney, advance directive and your death beneficiary assets (such as life insurance, transfer-on-death deeded real estate and pay-on-death financial accounts, for example) is also an essential element of a thorough check up.

Getting your plan checked more often than just when major life events happen may also benefit you. An annual estate planning check up gives you and your estate planning team the chance to respond to events outside your life, such as changes in the law. By undergoing an annual check up, you can address these changes in your plan, to make certain your plan continues to perform at peak capability.

This article was written by Rich Lynn, Author for UPG America and is intended for general information purposes only. Some information may not apply to your situation. It does not, nor is it intended, to constitute legal advice. You should consult with an attorney regarding any specific questions about probate, living probate or other estate planning matters. UPG America is not a lawyer or law firm and is not engaged in the practice of law. For more information about this and other estate planning matters visit our website at []

Article Source: [] The Importance of Regular ‘Check Ups’ for Your Estate Plan

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