The age-old quote, “The only constant in life is change” applies to estate planning as well. Changes in your life and the law may affect your estate plan and that’s why it’s important to review and refresh the documents as needed. So, what changes should you make to your estate plan?
If you haven’t already drafted an estate plan and wish to do so, please consider contacting an estate planning attorney immediately. If you have a plan on file, then it should be updated to reflect major life changes. The most obvious life changes include the birth or death of a family member, but other life changes should be considered as well. For example, if you’ve designated in your will that you’re leaving your home to a relative but you’ve recently sold the home, then your will needs to be updated.
Is your estate plan detailed enough? While many people consider the big things, such as the house, car, and other assets, items with great sentimental value may be overlooked. Also, you should add digital assets (passwords, documents, photos, video files, etc.) to your estate plan if you haven’t already.
In Michigan a handwritten (holographic) will may be legally binding if the testator (writer of the will) is at least 18 years old and if the document is signed by two competent witnesses. However, most legal experts will argue against using handwritten wills because of the many mistakes a person is likely to make. As an example, the family of singer Aretha Franklin, who died in August of 2018, uncovered three wills after her death. These documents ultimately led to family squabbles, the resignation of the estate’s executor, and continued tensions surrounding Franklin’s estate, valued at $80 million. A trial in Oakland County Probate Court to decide which of Franklin’s three wills is valid is set to begin later this year.
You may wish to create a list of typical monthly bills and write down account numbers and passwords to assist your executor. Consider documenting all relevant information, including items such as Internet-based subscriptions, automatic deductions on credit cards, automatic utility payments, and other obligations for which there’s no monthly bill.
If you care for a loved one it’s important to have a plan in place regarding who will care for your child or other dependent after you’re gone. Don’t forget to formalize your wishes about the care for your pets as well.
The estate planning attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are ready to help you update your estate plan. Call 586-726-1000 or visit our website for more information.