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How often do I need to revisit my estate plan?

As this blog regularly reports, too many local Fort Myers and Lee County residents fail to engage in comprehensive estate planning. This risky strategy exposes their wealth to the whims of family and friends, along with state and federal regulations. Nevertheless, many of them cite the inability to account for contingencies as a reason to not engage in estate planning at all.

The logic goes that if my estate plan will be materially affected by unforeseen changes to my life anyway, why waste the time and money in the first place. For instance, many individuals will conduct some simple estate planning after starting a family. Ten to twenty years later, of course, they may find themselves with more kids, a divorce, step-kids or any other number of things. Now, their original estate plan is nearly useless.

While these contingencies certainly may occur, it is no reason to avoid estate planning. Many local residents want to know how often they should revisit their plan and whether this maintenance is overly burdensome. The reality is that a proper estate plan can often be easily updated to account for a change in circumstances. Obviously, anytime you have a major life change like a divorce, the estate plan should be revisited and may require extensive changes.

But, most Floridians can get away with a simple phone call to their estate planning lawyers about once a year. In a short conversation, these experienced professionals can discover any changes that may require an alteration to your estate plan. By building a relationship with a planning professional, updates and changes to an estate plan become a simple and efficient process. Therefore, you should not let the fear of constant maintenance prevent you from getting that estate plan in place.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Why Estate Planning Can't be 'One and Done'," Eleanor Blaney, January 8, 2015

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