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What is continuous estate planning and why is it important?

Continuous estate planning refers to staying on top of your estate plan to ensure that it doesn't become obsolete. No one's life and no one's family is a static, unchanging entity. People die, people get married, children are born and people get divorced. All of these life changes could necessitate changes to your estate plan to ensure it reflects your current wishes.

Imagine you have been married for 15 years, and you've now decided to get a divorce. Your estate plan, which you drafted five years ago left all of your assets to your soon-to-be ex. If you don't update your current estate plan -- and the beneficiary designations on your insurance and investment accounts -- to remove your ex, your ex could receive the money and wealth you hope to leave to someone else.

Alternatively, imagine you discover that a close family member has a serious drug problem. You may need to adjust your estate plan to ensure that this family member doesn't receive a large inheritance that could enable him or her to descend even further into the drug problem.

In addition to changing family circumstances, changing inheritance laws could also necessitate an update to your estate plan. Indeed, an estate plan created a decade ago may no longer be relevant in terms of the way it manages tax consequences and other factors that can change with the law.

The fact of the matter is, estate plans need constant tweaking. If it has been more than a year since you've had a conversation with a Tennessee estate planning lawyer about whether your current plan is up-to-date, now may be the time for an estate planning checkup.

Source: Forbes, "Why Continuous Estate Planning Is Essential For The Rich And Super-Rich," Russ Alan Prince, Sep. 06, 2017

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