Congratulations on getting your things in order. The process of estate planning is often one many people avoid because they just don’t want to think about it. You have been responsible and met with an attorney to prepare your estate plan and have signed and finalized all your documents. You may think you’re done and not think about it again. However, there are still some things you should consider after executing your documents.
If during the process of creating your estate plan, you didn’t speak with your family about your plan, now would be a good time. If you speak to them now, there are less likely to be family disputes because everyone is aware of your intentions. It is also good for the family to know there is a plan, so they know to look for it if needed.
When you receive the original documents from your attorney, you should place them somewhere safe. A good idea is a fire-safe if you have one. Be sure that someone you know and trust knows how to get into that safe. A will must be admitted to the Probate court within one year of death. If no one knows you had an estate plan or where to access the will, it will be as if you never created a will and your assets could pass through intestate law. This could mean the people you intended to inherit may not.
You have placed your documents somewhere safe and spoken to your family. What’s next? I would strongly recommend keeping track of how your assets are titled including any beneficiaries. If you purchase a new car you will want to remember to add beneficiaries to your title using a transfer on death designation or TOD. If you purchase a new home, open new bank accounts, get new life insurance, open a new retirement account, etc., you will want to remember to add beneficiaries to those assets so they can avoid going through probate.
If you have any major life changes, divorce, death, etc., it is always a good idea to review your plan with an attorney to make your sure documents don’t need any updates based on those changes. It is always a good idea even without any of those major life changes to review your plan at least every five years.