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The importance of periodically updating one's estate plan

British Columbia residents who have drawn up an estate plan may be surprised to learn that they may have to revisit their plan periodically to make important updates. Due to changes in a person's life and the law, these updates can potentially have a large effect on how their property is distributed.

Even when a person has created a comprehensive estate plan -- including a will, health care and financial powers of attorney -- and other documents, the work is not always completed. The documents should be updated every few years in case the law surrounding how the estate is taxed has changed. Keeping this up to date can have large benefits for the inheritors of the estate.

Additionally, the inheritors themselves may have changed: With each new child or grandchild that is born, the will or trust documents may need an update. A person's values regarding end-of-life medical issues may also have shifted and require adjustments, including the addition of a do not resuscitate order, or DNR.

When trust or estate administration is necessary, the person entrusted with this task should also be reevaluated every few years. Many people prefer to use family members as the executor of their estate, but should that family member pass away or other individuals close to the family become better candidates, the appropriate changes should be made.

Lastly, a person's asset and wealth situation may drastically change over the years. New provisions to the will may be necessary for proper distribution of assets.

Properly setting up an estate plan can be a complex task that requires particular knowledge of tax law and other issues. A lawyer with estate administration and planning experience may be able to help by examining a person's situation and developing a sound plan. The lawyer may then be able to draft the documents to provide wealth protection and minimize any inheritance tax on a client's heirs.

Source: Explorer News, "Six reasons to take a fresh look at your estate plan," June 25, 2014

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