As the coronavirus has made its way to North Carolina, clients are reaching out to the Elder Law Practice Group seeking guidance on whether they should update their existing estate plans.   While our Elder Law attorneys advise meeting annually to review estate plans, here are the top three times when you should meet with an attorney to review your plan:

  • Changes in Health: If you or a loved one has encountered a significant health change, you should review whether your existing estate plan still meets your needs.  These health changes could include the following: a diagnosis that would require long-term care such as dementia or Parkinson’s Disease; a diagnosis with a terminal illness; an accident that disables you or a loved one; an imminent surgical procedure; or any other change in your health or a loved one’s health. 
  • Changes in Finances: If you or a loved one has encountered significant changes in your finances (whether it is a windfall, retirement, or a substantial loss), you should review whether your estate plan continues to meet those changing needs.  If your financial status has changed significantly, you may be susceptible to certain tax issues or other unfavorable liabilities that could possibly be avoided with careful planning.  Similarly, if your loved ones sustain a significant change in finances, you may want to review whether your estate plan for asset-distribution could help or hurt that person further.
  • Changes in Family Status: As life goes on, so do births, deaths, divorces, marriages, and adoptions.  A change in family status would include a relocation to a new state. Anytime there is a change in your family, it would be wise to consider whether your estate plan has the flexibility to change, too. Sometimes these changes affect who has legal authority to act on your behalf. You would not want to unintentionally disinherit a person who wasn’t a family member (or even born) at the time of your estate plan. Conversely, you would not want to allow a person who is no longer in your family to inherit your estate. On more practical terms, you wouldn’t want the costly mistake of having an estate plan from one state dictate your estate in your new home-state.  These life changes should be considered in your estate planning goals and should be reviewed with an experienced attorney.

So, whether you are entirely without an estate plan or your estate plan was drafted many decades ago, it is likely that your needs have changed and will continue to change.  You should want an estate plan that contemplates your life changes and offers flexibility with peace of mind.  Let our Elder Law Practice Group of Cranfill Sumner assist you with these changes and meet your goals.