The first detail that stuck out during my highly expert analysis were the trustees in the revocable living trust. I wasn’t on there! Granted, all of these documents were created long before I was 18 (and long before I expressed interest in becoming a lawyer). My parents had named their closest siblings as trustees, which made perfect sense at the time. The same was true in their powers of attorney for health care and their general durable powers of attorney. I mean, I understand. Would you trust a 15 year old to handle that much responsibility, and make those kinds of decisions?
Alas, I am not 15 anymore. I’ve also got some legal experience under my belt. Although I wasn’t named as a trustee, my parent’s stuff would eventually go to me and my brother once we reached a certain age. Well, we’re darn near that age, and we’ve matured quite a bit since high school. I’m not trying to take control of my parent’s estate, but even they agree it might be time to update their plan and include me and my brother as trustees.
I won’t dive into who, of my brother and I, should be primary trustee. I’ll let my parents make that decision. The moral of this story, though, is that time goes on and circumstances change. Who you initially thought should be the primary decision maker might not be the best choice anymore, or your kids might be responsible enough to be pushed up the ladder. Making updates as life goes on ensures that your estate plan remains accurate, and that your wishes remain legally protected and upheld. Updates don’t even have to be name changes; maybe you bought a boat, or sold a property. Periodically go back and review your documents, just to make sure everything is current and correct. Don’t just file away your estate plan and forget about it.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back next week with more stories to tell.