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Pocatello Estate Planning How to Keep Your Estate Plan Current

By Lane V. Erickson, Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney

Congratulations! You’ve already gone to the effort to get your estate-planning completed. Whether you’ve done this on your own, or whether you’ve gone to an attorney who helped you create your own estate plan, you have something that is now in place to provide protection to yourself while you are alive and to give you the opportunity to distribute your money, property, and other assets to your family and loved ones after you pass away. In reality, you have now done more than most adults do when it comes to their estate planning.

Recent studies show that only about 38% of adults have any kind of estate planning completed. So, the fact that you have your estate plan done, is a fantastic thing. The hard work now is really over. All that now needs to be done is to periodically maintain your estate plan so that it stays current.

I like to think of estate planning maintenance the same as car maintenance. In other words, if you regularly have your car serviced, have the oil changed, and have other things checked out, then typically your car is going to operate problem-free for years to come. However, if you don’t take care of the little things by doing just regular maintenance and servicing, it’s likely that your car is going to develop a major problem. When these kinds of problems arise, repairs that are needed take much more time and usually cost much more money. If you don’t do those repairs, then the car usually will just not work anymore, which could leave you stranded in the worst circumstances.

Your estate plan is just like that. It really doesn’t require much maintenance or service to keep it current and updated. However, if you neglect it after you have gotten it done, it’s possible that it could leave you and your family stranded.

The purpose of this article is to talk about the things you can do to keep your estate plan current. We will first talk about what you do with your estate plan if you have moved from one state to another. We will then talk about how you should review your estate plan if you’ve ever experienced a major life change. Finally we’ll talk about simply reviewing your estate plan periodically to make sure it still does what it is you need it to do.

1. Review It if You Have Moved

First, it should be an automatic thing that if you are moving from one state to another, that you should review your estate plan and make sure it still works for you. The reason for this is obvious. If you have moved from one state to another, the people that you named in your estate plan will likely no longer live close to where you live. Additionally, by moving to a new state, you are now subject to different laws than you were in the state you originally lived in.

When it comes to the law, the good news about Idaho is that if your estate planning documents, including your last will and testament, were valid in the state where you obtained them, Idaho will recognize and them as valid in Idaho as well. What this simply means is that by moving to Idaho, you have not automatically invalidated your own estate planning documents.

However, moving does have practical implications. By moving, you’ve likely changed the property that you listed in your original last will and testament. Also, as mentioned previously, moving, changes the people that you live around. Whether family members, close friends, or otherwise, your relationships will likely change because you have moved. This may make it so that you need to update your estate plan, so it meets your current needs, rather than the needs you had where you previously lived.

2. Review It if You had a Major Life Change

Moving is not the only change that can happen in your life. There are other major life changes that can occur as well. These could include someone being born into your family, someone dying who was in your family, a marriage within your family, or a divorce within your family. These are all big changes. Usually, when a person goes through a major life change, if they review their estate plan, they can see immediately the changes that need to be made.

For example, let’s assume that you are married, and that you named your spouse as your personal representative and also as your power of attorney. Let’s also assume that you leave all of your property to your spouse if they survive you. Now let’s suppose that after a few years you and your spouse get a divorce. If you read through your estate planning documents now, the need for change will leap out at you. It’s uncommon to the point of being laughable that a person would want to keep their ex-spouse in all the same places and ways they had them originally listed in their estate planning when they were married to them.

3. Review It at Least Every 5 Years

Even if you haven’t gone through a major life change, it’s possible that someone around you, either your family or a close friend has. For this reason, we also recommend that our clients review their estate plan at least every five years. Again, this will help you realize if any changes to your estate planner needed.

Let’s suppose that you listed your brother as your personal representative in your last will and testament. Now let’s suppose that your brother passed away. He can no longer be your personal representative. Because of this, you would likely want to update your estate plan and remove your brother’s name and add someone new to that appointment.

Again, the major life changes other may go through could include a birth, death, a marriage, a divorce, a person’s moving away, or any other thing that would affect your plan. Let’s suppose that instead of your brother passing away that he was injured in an accident and now he is physically incapable of helping you with your estate. In this instance you would still want to make a change. You wouldn’t be thinking about that immediately after your brother is injured, but it would be something you noticed if you re-read your estate plan documents.

We have helped numerous clients update their estate planning at various times in their lives. If you have questions about your own estate plan, and whether or not it needs to be updated, we are confident that we can help you too!

Enlist a Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Pocatello lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems.

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