Law Office of Rick Todd Blog

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Estate Plan Timing: A Professional's Guide

Any estate planning lawyer located in Howard County, MD is going to be faced with this question from their clients: How many times should I review my estate planning documents? Now an unscrupulous lawyer would answer “annually” but realistically a client should review their estate plan every five years or thereabouts. I would add that if a person goes through some life changing event such as divorce or the death of a loved one, they should also review their documents.

When Should I Update My Estate Plan?

Life changing events are not defined by statute unfortunately, but they can include relationship changes other than death or separation. If a parent has a falling out with a child who has problems with drugs and career, that child might be disinherited and that would require the assistance of a lawyer.


Another reason to update your estate plan is that your supporting documents like the power of attorney can be viewed as too old by financial institutions. Even though financial institutions are legally obligated to accept powers of attorney, they find excuses to reject them, and having an older document is one reason. Redoing that document can alleviate that problem.


Another common question related to this is what happens to a divorced spouse in my will? The divorced spouse is treated as if he/she is dead and the successor’s to that person’s share of the estate receive it. But what if you are merely separated at the time of your death? Your spouse may ask for elective share which would entitle him or her up to half of an estate if there are no children. All of this could be solved with a new will or codicil!


So while estate planning documents are written to last theoretically forever, it becomes dangerous to leave them alone for too long. They are vulnerable to changes in the relationships in your life and to the Maryland legislature. And if you lose your documents, taking the time to update them will mean you will now remember to make new ones.

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The Law Offices of Rick Todd has offices located in Columbia, Chevy Chase, Fairfax, Virginia, and Maryland and serves clients throughout Clarksville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Fulton, Rockville, Bethesda, Potomac, Laurel, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Washington D.C.

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