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Review Estate Plans Yearly to Avoid Unintended Results

One estate planning expert says that the most important aspect of estate planning — in Massachusetts or other states — is reviewing the plan on an annual basis. Although wills, trusts and powers of attorney are all essential elements of an estate plan, the expert says that failure to review those documents on a regular basis could result in unintended consequences after death. He has personal experience with such unintended results to back up his recommendation.

According to the expert, his parents divorced years ago, and following the divorce, he and his brothers had a falling out with his mother. Although the mother and sons later reconciled, she reportedly wrote into her will that her sons would not inherit anything from her estate. The man reports that this occurred over 18 years ago; since then, his mother enjoyed a loving relationship with her boys and her grandchildren.

When the woman suddenly passed away, however, it was discovered that she hadn’t changed her will. Though her son reports she had no great wealth, the boys were unable even to take childhood mementos or pictures from her estate to pass on to the grandchildren. Despite his mother’s apparent change of heart, her estate planning documents tell a different story and her legal support network is acting on those documents.

Sadly, such issues happen more often than people realize. When actor James Gandolfini passed away, approximately 80 percent of his estate went to taxes because he hadn’t updated his estate plan to account for his professional and financial success. By reviewing estate planning every year, individuals can reduce the risks that such situations will occur and better protect the interests of heirs.

Source: The Valley Business Journal, “Yearly Review: The Most Critical Part of Every Estate Plan” Aug. 01, 2014

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