Should my parents estate plan be reviewed at some point? 62 Answers as of May 21, 2013

My parents made an estate plan over 20 years ago and now they getting older and I'm wondering if that is a document that should be looked at and updated regularly now or what.

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Edward L. Armstrong, P.C. | Edward L. Armstrong
Your parents definitely need to review an estate plan that old. There have been some major changes in the transfer tax laws and there will, in all probability be more changes before too much longer.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 10/14/2012
Paul Nidich, Attorney at law
Paul Nidich, Attorney at law | Paul Nidich
Estate plans should be reviewed regularly. Sometimes they should be reviewed yearly; sometimes every few years. Circumstances change, children are born; people die. You may lose your job or find a new one. And so forth.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 10/13/2012
Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski
Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski | Gerald A. Bagazinski
The Michigan Trust Code took effect on May 1, 2010. Changes in the laws affecting Health Care Powers of Attorney and General Durable Power of Attorney have also been implemented. I would strongly encourage them to have their estate plan reviewed and updated.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/11/2012
Candace K Ladley, Attorney | Candace Kay Ladley
Yes, you should have their estate plan renewed about every 3 years. The law is constantly changing as is your parents' situation.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/11/2012
Bruning & Associates, PC
Bruning & Associates, PC | Kevin Bruning
If your parents' estate planning documents are that old, then it would be a very good idea to work with an estate planning attorney to discuss any updates that need to be made. A well-drafted estate plan can last for a while, but it is a good idea as a person ages to ensure that it is updated whenever a potential change comes about, such as a birth or death in the family, a change of location, a significant change in assets, changes in health, etc.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 10/11/2012
    Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
    I would suggest that Only if they want to make changes to their will. I hope they have a medical power of attorney and a power of attorney if either or both become disabled. They can review all documents themselves and want any changes then pursue that. If they bought additional real estate in last 20 years, definitely address that.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Burnham & Associates
    Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
    A good rule of thumb for estate plans, and most legal documents, is to have them reviewed every seven years. It is common for there to be changes in the laws, changes in the family, and things that should be updated. It is also worth noting that while estate planning documents, like powers of attorney, do not expire; private institutions like Banks, sometimes create arbitrary expiration dates. Banks often times will consider a power of attorney "stale" or expired if it is more than three years old.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
    It should be reviewed at least every 3- 5 years.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Asset Protection and Elder Law Center
    Asset Protection and Elder Law Center | Shadi Alai-Shaffer
    Yes! Many things change in their lives and the law, you want to always have your estate plan (Trust) reviewed every few years to make sure it meets the needs of your life. Make sure they have an attorney review their trust and see what changes and updates are needed to properly protect them (and you!)
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    The Law Office of Eric J Smith
    The Law Office of Eric J Smith | Eric Smith
    Well drafted estate planning documents are meant to last for years, but 20 year old documents are definitely ready to be reviewed. Changes in the law and personal life changes mean that estate planning documents should be reviewed every five years as a rule of thumb.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    The Center for Elder Law
    The Center for Elder Law | Don Rosenberg
    You are kidding. Clearly an estate plan should be reviewed at least every 3-5 years. Since your parents established their plan, there has been numerous changes in the law. There is HIPAA privacy rules, do not resuscitate law, mental health law, estate and protected individual law, Michigan Trust Code, Elder Law Protection Act-just name a few. There are also steps if they are not millionaires to protect the assets from the nursing home.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    We recommend reviewing your estate plan every three years five at the most. It is almost certain that a 20-year-old plan will have some tax provisions that are completely wrong now, even if family relationships haven't changed. Also, your parents (yes, you can help, but remember that it's their plan, not yours) should review all of their assets (including the forgotten little IRAs and small insurance policies) and make sure they understand what will happen to those assets at their death and, is that what they want?
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Brian M. Mekdsy Legal Services
    Brian M. Mekdsy Legal Services | Brian M. Mekdsy
    Ideally, people should review their estate plans every 3-5 years, and especially after major life events such as the birth of a new child, divorce or adoption. If your parents have had the same wills or estate plan in place for over 20 years, there is a good possibility that many of its provisions are outdated and need to be revised to reflect their current needs and objectives. You don't indicate how old your parents are at this point, but if they are nearing retirement, they really should consider reevaluating their plans. They should consult with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible, or if they are seniors, they should contact an attorney who is well versed in elder planning. This is a complicated area of the law, affecting not only property, but estate and gift tax planning. If not given proper attention, this could have serious negative consequences on the distribution of their estate, tax implications, and qualification of certain benefits. Hope this helps.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    LAW OFFICE OF ROBERT I LONG
    LAW OFFICE OF ROBERT I LONG | Robert I. Long
    They need to first review it themselves. If the people they designated to be "in charge" after them (Executor, Successor Trustee, Agent or Attorney-in-Fact) are not who they would now prefer, or if there have been births, deaths, marriages, divorces or other "life changes" that would alter who they want to receive (and NOT receive) their property, then they should consult an estate planning attorney to either amend or replace their documents. Also check to see if any of the documents expired by the passage of time. A California Power of Attorney created before 1992 may only have been valid for 7 years, even if it doesn't say so.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    It's a good idea to review them every five years or so. Laws change, people pass away and new members are born or join the family, financial reserves ebb and flow, treasured items lose their appeal and other things become important.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Brad Micklin | Brad Micklin
    Yes, a person should review his/her will every year and revise it any Time there is a substantial change in their life circumstances. Some examples of substantial changes would be purchasing or selling large assets, marriages, births and deaths. Moreover, there have been significant changes and there will continue to be significant changes in the federal estate exemption laws which can greatly affect tax consequences to estate plans and not been revised recently.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A.
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A. | Laurie E. Ohall
    I always encourage clients to have their estate plan reviewed every 3 to 5 years, or when there is a major life event. For instance, you may have been a minor child when they had their documents prepared and, now that you are an adult, they may want to appoint you (or your siblings) as their agent under a durable power of attorney or as their personal representative in their estate. Also, laws do change from time to time, so it's a good idea to get the documents reviewed to know whether they should be updated.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    GOLD & ASSOCIATES, P.C.
    GOLD & ASSOCIATES, P.C. | KENNETH GOLD
    Yes. Laws change. Assets change. Families change.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    A big YES by a qualified estate planning attorney, as I am sure parts of the total plan may not be appropriate at this time.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Mark Bagula
    Mark Bagula | Mark Bagula
    Yes, since changes in this area of the law are relatively frequent. At a minimum, the verbiage and disposition of assets should be reviewed and updated to be consistent with present desires and law.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    LAW OFFICE OF JASMINE OHANIAN | JASMINE OHANIAN
    Trusts should always be reviewed in order to make sure to update with new developments. If you need to update the trust, you should see a lawyer. Updates can cost few hundred to few thousand dollars depending on the changes you may need to make.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    Yes, the plan should be reviewed to be sure that it still meets their needs and desires for the disposition of their property. That should also include determining if durable powers of attorney are appropriate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Absolutely, if for no other reason that the inheritance and estate taxes have been modified significantly over the period and their plan may have become detrimental as opposed to beneficial. They should also have durable powers of attorney and an appointment of medical advocate, with instructions.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    Probably. Enough may have changed over the past 20 years that the documents should at least be reviewed. I do not charge to review estate plans like this. Documents do not need to be changed, unless the clients' objectives have changed, in the vast majority of all cases. So it is certainly possible that everything is absolutely fine.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    Yes, it would be beneficial to review their estate plan in general. Often, after the passage of 20 years, the entire approach to estate planning differs.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger LLP | Norman H. Green
    If nobody has looked at the estate planning documents for 20 years, somebody should.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    Yes, it is recommended that an estate plan be reviewed at least every 2 years. I am sure many things have happened in the past 20 years and your parents' estate has grown some. Also, the laws today are very much different than 20 years ago. If I am local to your parents, I would be happy to assist them in the review.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
    In Maryland, it is wise to review one's estate plan whenever there is a "life change," such as a birth/death in the family, change in assets, marriage/divorce, etc., a change in the law (for example, tax laws change frequently), or approximately every three years. While reviewing does not mean the estate plan needs to be changed, it can be helpful to make sure the plan is customized to meet one's goals. I recommend your parents have their 20-year-old estate plan reviewed by an estate planning attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Brown, Paindiris & Scott, LLP
    Brown, Paindiris & Scott, LLP | Simon J. Lebo
    Yes, an estate plan should be reviewed about every five years, and also if any significant life events occur.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC | Darin Christensen
    The estate planning law (and probably your parents' financial situation) has changed enough over the last 20 years that it would be a good idea for them to review their estate plan to make sure it best accomplishes their objectives.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    I recommend to my clients that they have their documents reviewed every 5 years.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Richard M. Gee, a PC
    Richard M. Gee, a PC | Richard M. Gee
    Estate plans should be reviewed annually to make sure that they conform to your parent's present wishes and any other changed circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Neal M. Rimer, Esquire
    Neal M. Rimer, Esquire | Neal M. Rimer
    I usually recommend reviewing the estate plan every 3 years. There are family changes, law changes, new cases that effect the way in which the law is interpreted, and many other reasons to review estate plans. 20 years is too long to wait for a review.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Grant Morris Dodds | Mark Dodds
    Hmmm, twenty years? It might be time to review and update the plan. In the last twenty years we have seen the estate tax exemption go from $600,000 to $3.5 million, then in 2010 when there was no estate tax, an exemption this year of $5 million with the fiscal cliff looming at the end of this year. So it just might be a good idea to review the plan. Also have there been changes in heirs? People who are deceased, new grandchildren born, changes in family circumstances? All of these events are reasons to review a plan. In addition, the standard forms for health care powers of attorney and financial powers of attorney have changed over those years, at least in the state of Nevada, so those should be updated. One of the biggest problems with older documents is that those documents do not address the HIPAA rules dealing with privacy issues. If these issues are not dealt with, this can lead to delays in utilization of these important documents.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
    Yes, estate plans should be reviewed on the earlier of 5 years or a major change in the family such as a birth, death or change in fortunes.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Martinson & Beason, PC
    Martinson & Beason, PC | Douglas C Martinson II
    Typically an estate plan should be reviewed every 5 years unless circumstances have changed to do it sooner. Such circumstanced could be children not needing a Guardian or Trustee, providing for grandchildren, death of beneficiaries, change in assets and change in estate tax law. The same is true with Power of Attorneys and Living Wills as the laws have changed significantly in the last 20 years.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Law offices of Ron Webster | Ronald S. Webster
    It would be prudent to have your parents estate plan reviewed. Over the past 20 years tax laws have changed as well as the format for various forms of powers of attorney. As a general rule, I think it is wise to review anyone's estate plan at least once a decade or upon major changes in the tax law.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    WARM SPRINGS LAW GROUP | Elliott D. Yug
    Absolutely it should be reviewed. Many things have changed in their lives in the last 20 years as have the laws.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Thompson Ostler & Olsen dba Franchise Business Law Group | Brooke Ashton
    I would highly recommend a review of the estate plan. In 20 years many changes may have occurred to their assets and to them personally which should be considered. It is likely that their assets have grown and they may need additional documents to ensure that they have the best estate plan for tax purposes. Additionally, someone listed as the personal representative may no longer be available and/or they may want to revise who will supervise their estate when they pass away. However, the most important thing for them to consider are their advanced directives and powers of attorney. As they are getting older, there is a higher likelihood that they may become incapacitated. These documents help ensure that their wishes as to their financial and health needs are taken care of during incapacity.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Law Office of Russell M. Blood, P.C. | Russell M. Blood
    The answer is emphatically yes! I'm betting that a lot has happened in the last 20 years in your family and your parents? Finances. And there have been changes in the law. If the kind of plan your parents have is a trust-based plan, it is important to make sure that all of the assets are titled in the name of the trust, or that that the trust is the beneficiary of assets such as life insurance and/or retirement plans. Even if they have a will-based plan, it is important to make sure that asset titles and beneficiary designations are consistent with their plan. It is also important to make sure that they have a good plan in place in the event of a lifetime mental disability. We recommend that clients review and update their plans on a regular basis. NOTE: This reply does not create an attorney/client relationship between us, and does not obligate me to provide legal services to you for a fee or otherwise. The information provided is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Victor Varga | Victor Varga
    It all depends on whether their financial situation has changed, and if they want to change anything in it such as beneficiaries, amounts, etc.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    It is a good idea to review it once per year on your own. It is important to review it when laws change or circumstances change. Since you parents may have shelved it 20 years ago, they should review it and I strongly urge them to speak with an attorney to have it reviewed and updated. At a minimum the powers of attorney and living will need to be updated to comply with current laws.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    It is always good to periodically review the estate plan. Especially since it was developed over 20 years ago. Things change all the time. I would suggest to talk it over with your parents to see if and what they might want changed if something somehow has changed.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    Yes. There have been changes in the law as well as making sure that their current desires and needs are met by their documents as well as making sure there are no tax issues with 20 year old documents.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Blough Law Office | Janis L. Blough
    A 20-yr old estate plan should have a very thorough review as soon as possible and thereafter anytime there is a significant change for either your parents or the beneficiaries. Many estate planners suggest annual reviews.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Powell Potter PLLC
    Powell Potter PLLC | Shawn Potter
    One should review the estate plan immediately after a major life event such as a birth, deaths of parents (and receipt of inheritance). It's good to do a quick review each year because changes in the economy and in the tax code (which occur with the election cycle) and a more thorough review every five years.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    An estate plan should be reviewed annually for the financial part and at least every 3 years for the documents or legal parts(Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Agencies). The law changes and family situations change. It is easier to challenge a 20 year older document than one done within the last 3 years.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    The Smalley Law Firm, LLC | Cary Smalley
    Yes, I recommend reviewing and updating every 5-10 years.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Whiteford, Taylor, & Preston | Edwin Fee
    Yes, an estate plan that is over 20 years old should be reviewed.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Neil J. Lehto, Esq.
    Neil J. Lehto, Esq. | Neil J. Lehto
    Yes, an estate plan made 20 years ago is almost certainly out-of-date with changes in Federal and state estate taxes and, perhaps, more importantly, with changes in their estate and the family.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry | Charles R. Perry
    My general advice is that an estate plan should be reviewed by the client every 2-3 years, to make sure that it still complies with their wishes, and that they make an appointment with an attorney if they have any questions or changes. I would definitely suggest a review with an attorney if the estate plan is over 20 years old. Lots of things may have changed in that time that may affect the estate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Knute Rife
    Knute Rife | Knute Rife
    They should definitely have their plan reviewed. Their needs, goals , and circumstances have undoubtedly changed in the last 20 years, so their plan should change too.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Mike Yeksavich | Mike Yeksavich
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 5/21/2013
    Law Offices of R. Christine Brown | R. Christine Brown
    There have been changes in the law in the past 20 years and their situation may also have changed. It would be a good idea to have their documents reviewed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Donaldson Stewart, PC
    Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
    Although their existing documents are probably still valid, it wouldn't hurt to have the documents reviewed to ensure that they still reflect your parents' wishes. Also, because the laws change over time, it would be a good idea to make sure that your parents are receiving the full protection offered by the existing laws. We generally tell our clients to review their estate plans any time there is a marriage, divorce, birth or death of any person named as a decision-maker or beneficiary of the estate plan.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Doland & Fraade | Michael Doland
    Certainly if there were any dramatic changes such as grandchildren. A periodic review is considered prudent practice.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Ben T. Liu Law Office
    Ben T. Liu Law Office | Ben T. Liu
    Chances are good that circumstances have changed over the 20 years. The law has also changed. Your parents should have their plan reviewed and updated.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Skillern Law Firm
    Skillern Law Firm | Penni Skillern
    Yes. Estate plans should be looked at every 3-5 years, since estate sizes change, tax codes change, as well as the laws are updated on a the document. I would have an attorney look over the documents and give you suggestions for what needs updating.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Richard J. Keyes Attorney at Law | Richard J. Keyes
    When you say "estate plan," that can encompass many different documents. In Missouri for estate planning you can use wills, trusts, payable on death designations, transfer on death designations, beneficiary deeds and jointly held assets to name a few. However, your parents also should have powers of attorney, both financial and for health care, and also should have HIPAA releases so someone can look at medical records should one become incapacitated. I would encourage your parents to have their estate plan reviewed and see if any of these documents should be updated.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    Horn & Johnsen SC
    Horn & Johnsen SC | Dera L. Johnsen-Tracy
    It is generally a good idea to have your estate plan reviewed at least every 3-5 years. Family and financial situations change, and the laws change as well. I'm sure your parents are in a very different situation now than they were 20 years ago. Many estate planning attorneys will provide an initial consultation, including a review of any documents already in place, at no charge.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 10/10/2012
    TrustCounsel | Gregory Herman-Giddens
    Yes - it's very important that the estate plan be reviewed. Most likely several updates will be advisable.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 10/10/2012
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