The estate planning process is not something that can typically be done in one meeting. The nature of estate planning has become complex over the last several years and therefore the creation of an estate plan takes careful consideration from estate planning attorneys and clients to factor in all the different areas of law that may be applicable to a couple or an individual’s estate plan.
Generally, an attorney’s role in the estate planning process is finished only when the documents are signed and any plan has been funded. However, estate planning is meant to be organic and the documents that are created need review and adjusting as individuals reach different stages in their life, which is why it is incredibly important to continue to follow up with an estate planning lawyer after you have begun planning for the future.
Reviewing an Estate Plan
Estate planning documents are often meant to be organic so that they can change to adapt to an individual’s various stages of life. Some of the common triggers for reviewing an estate plan may include a significant increase or decrease in wealth, marriage, divorce, a birth of a child or a grandchild, purchasing real estate, or moving in or out of a jurisdiction. All of those life events may trigger a change in a client’s wishes for their estate plan. Those are great opportunities to review estate planning and consult an estate planning attorney so that the documents are as up-to-date as possible.
It is important for an attorney to constantly be involved in an individual’s estate plan, and for a client to follow up with their estate planning lawyer as soon as possible. This is because many times, that lawyer will have assisted their client throughout the course of their lifetime. If and when a catastrophic event were to occur, an attorney can also be there to assist the family, deal with the loss of a loved one, and to assist with the administration of the estate.
Reasons to Update a Plan
It is not uncommon for individuals to write documents when their children are young and not make any revision to those documents until after the children are older. With a careful review, often the original estate planning documents need to be changed significantly to reflect that the children are adults, and to adjust for any significant increase or decrease in wealth. When documents remain unchanged for that long, often there are several issues during the estate administration that could have been avoided if the documents had been updated. While family dynamics are constantly changing, the laws change frequently as well.
Estate tax laws have changed significantly in the last five years, and there has been some discussion about changing the law again in the future. Due to the adjustment in these laws, it is always important to follow up with an estate planning lawyer to help someone ensure that their future is properly planned for, and is executed to their exact wishes. Documents that are reviewed frequently to accommodate major life changes, and changes in the law, often lead to a smoother estate administration.
Benefit of a Virginia Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning is an interesting area of the law because it is the combination of local estate laws with regards to estates and trusts, probate laws, estate tax questions and federal tax questions. It is often prudent to work with a Virginia-barred attorney so that the attorney is familiar with the laws of Virginia and how to advise their clients accordingly with what their options are for estate planning.
Estate planning is very unique to the jurisdiction in which you live because it is based heavily on local law. So, the nature of Virginia Probate Administration and the nature of the laws in Virginia sometimes allow for or provide for different estate planning options. In addition to that, Virginia has different estate tax rules or implications than other local jurisdictions. It is possible that there are some opportunities in Virginia that may not be available in other local jurisdictions.