Oklahoma residents often revise their estate plans when they have children, marry or divorce, but it may be prudent to revisit documents like wills, trusts, health care directives and powers of attorney on a regular basis and not just after major life events. The individuals chosen to act as executors or trustees could no longer be willing or able to deal with the responsibility of tending to important legal matters and administering an estate, and the person designated to have the power of attorney in the event of incapacity may no longer be considered suitable.
Situations may also arise that make it prudent to change the way assets are distributed. The provisions of a will are followed after an estate has gone through the probate process, but placing large sums in the hands of individuals who have developed drug or alcohol problems may not be wise. In these situations, it may be advisable to replace a will with trusts. In addition to giving individuals more control over how their estates will be administered, trusts can protect assets from creditors and prevent beneficiaries from losing benefits like Medicaid.
Other assets that should be included in an estate plan review include life insurance policies, annuities and IRA accounts. This is especially important when family situations change because these assets pass directly to the designated beneficiaries upon death.
Attorneys with experience in this area might recommend reviewing an estate plan every few years and whenever significant changes are made to the nation’s tax laws. The review process allows individuals to assess their decisions and make whatever revisions they deem necessary. Regularly updating wills, trusts and powers of attorney may also reduce the chances of these documents being challenged and bring issues to light that could, if they were left unaddressed, cause bitter disputes between loved ones.