By now, hopefully I have convinced you that you need a Will, Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and that you need to consult with an attorney that focuses on estate planning in order to prepare these documents.
But my job is not done. Having all of these documents prepared is only half the battle. Making sure these documents are kept up to date, is the rest. These documents are not once and done. You should be reviewing these documents every few years and every time there is a major life change.
When someone in your family gets married or divorced you should review the documents. When a new family member is born or a family member dies, you should review the documents. When you start a new job or retire, you should review the documents. Often times, reviewing the documents may not mean changing the documents. If the documents still reflect your wishes, you probably don’t need to change them.
I will caution you that the law can and does change and this might also impact your documents. Take for example the Financial Power of Attorney. The law changed in 2015. While the law specifically stated all previously properly executed Financial Power of Attorney documents were still valid, I’ve had some clients run into problems with older documents. I would suggest that you periodically check in with your attorney to make sure your documents are current. It is much easier to do a quick update now and know the documents will achieve their purpose than have them fail later on.
If I look over a client’s documents and see no reason to change or update them, I don’t. My goal is to make sure you have what you need in place to protect yourself and loved ones and that those documents change with you as your circumstances change.
Lindsay Schoeneberger is an attorney at Russell, Krafft and Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Widener University School of Law and practices in a variety of areas, including Estate Planning.