By Lorie Burch, Owner & Founding Attorney of Burch Law
Hi, Lorie Burch here, your go to Wills & Trusts attorney. I’m often asked, Lorie, when should I review my Will or make updates to my estate planning documents. Goo question! So here are a few tips on when YOU should review or update your Will and other legal planning.
First, I think it’s a good idea to review your Will and powers of attorney at least every 2-3 years to ensure that you haven’t changed your mind about executors, guardians of your kids, or maybe your kids are over 18 and don’t need guardians, or you may want to change who make medical or financial decisions for you. There are also changes in the law that you will want to make sure you are taking advantage of, such as including “digital assets” in your Will or financial power of attorney so that your Executor or Agent can handle online accounts such as email or social media in addition to your money and stuff.
Of course, I realize that telling you to review your Will every 2-3 years is like the dentist telling you to floss everyday – you’re probably not going to remember, unless you have a million dollar smile. So here’s quick list of life events that could trigger a change: deaths, births, divorces, marriages, changes in assets, or moving.
Speaking of moving, I am often asked whether documents from another state should be updated to Texas law. Y’all know we’re special here in Texas, don’t ya? Of course you want to get your Will Texa-fied. While Texas does recognize Wills from other States, it will be easier for your executor to go through the probate process if your Will has language specific to Texas. Also living wills and medical and financial powers of attorney are all defined by state law, so if you want a doctor or bank to easily honor those documents, better get the Texas state seal of approval.
Finally, it is also important to review your legal documents to ensure you have all the necessary planning. For example, I see many online forms and even other attorneys who do not provide all the documents you may need. We recommend that in addition to your Will, you should have a living will or directive to physicians, medical power of attorney, HIPAA medical record release, financial power of attorney, declaration of guardian if you get alzheimers or dementia, and an appointment of agent to control disposition of remains. If you have kids under 18, you should also have a designation of health care agent for children so someone can make medical decisions for them in case of emergency. Your Will only covers if you pass away, but this document covers if you are in an accident, in a hospital, traveling or unavailable.
You may also want to consider updating from a Will to a revocable living trust so your family and loved ones don’t have to go through the time and expense of probate court, whereas a Will is great and essential to make things easier, it still does have to be approved by a court.
Now that’s a lot of legal mumbo jumbo I just threw at you, so reach out to us to help guide you on what you may need to update with a complimentary consultation.
In the meantime, click the link provided for a free download of our checklist: “When Do I Need to Review or Update my Will & Legal Documents”
And remember: if you don’t have a Will, the state of Texas has one for you!