One of the components of our regular meetings with our clients is a review of the provisions in their estate planning documents, including wills and powers of appointment. One purpose of this review is to revisit the appointments which are made in these documents. For wills, these appointments designate the people who will serve as executor(s) or trustee(s) to administer the estate or any trusts created under the will. With powers of appointment, the appointees may be in charge of a person’s medical care or their financial assets in the event that they cannot make decisions for themselves
All of these appointments are important and require a lot of thought. These are the people or institutions that will be in charge of your financial affairs and medical care in the event that you are unable to do it yourself, either temporarily or permanently. The attorney who prepares your documents will always discuss this during their engagement. However, thoughtful decisions made when you initially execute these documents may not be so optimal after the passage of years (or people!). It is very easy to overlook the time that passes and how things may have changed.
For example, we often find that parents who had younger children, at the time that their planning documents were prepared, appointed friends or relatives to handle their affairs and to take care of their children. If it has been many years since they executed their documents and their children are now older and more responsible, it may make more sense for the children to be appointed to these responsibilities. This may be particularly true with medical powers. We have found that most people with adult children prefer their children to be in charge of making medical decisions for them.
To summarize, having a will and other planning documents in place is very important, but having outdated documents can derail your plans and make a difficult situation worse than you intended. So, if you haven’t looked at your will lately, dust it off and review it. If you have a recent will (or you’re still happy with the old one) schedule periodic reviews in the future to make sure that you have the right people in the right places at the right time. If you have questions, we will be glad to help answer them and we know a number of very competent attorneys and are happy to make a recommendation if you would like one.
Horizon Advisors is a Houston based fee-only wealth management firm. Horizon specializes in helping successful individuals and families understand, organize, and manage their often complex financial situations. Horizon offers integrated financial planning and investment management services.