Keep your estate planning documents current

January 23, 2014, by

One of the most frustrating experiences for an estate planner is sending a draft set of documents to a client... and the client never returns them. That means we've drafted you a beautiful new Will, Power of Attorney documents, and everything else you need... and they sit on the shelf, never seeing the light of day.

From the client's perspective, they may have felt the urge to get their Will and Power of Attorney documents done; they met with their lawyer; documents were drafted up; now the urge is gone. But the documents were never signed and executed! In Washington, draft Wills are unacceptable, unless they're signed, witnessed and notarized per statute. Courts assume that if you haven't properly executed your Will, it's because you weren't ready to execute it yet - perhaps because something was wrong with it.

Check your Wills to make sure they were properly executed. Check them also every decade or so. Children or nieces and nephews may have grown old enough to take more responsibility in managing your estate; new children may need to be provided for; a person you may have chosen to be an executor or hold Power of Attorney may no longer be optimal for that role. Consider also whether a child may have a disability and need a Special Needs Trust. Or, have your investments done well enough that you may need tax planning? It may be a good time to talk to your attorney to find out.