When you evaluate the responsibilities that you have, you generally set your priorities and act accordingly. There are some matters that you take care of once and revisit very rarely if at all (like the the wedding of your daughter…hopefully). And then there are others that you are going to have to tend to on an ongoing basis, and the management of most financial matters is going to fall into this category.
But what about estate planning? Where does it fit into the scheme of things? There was a time when many people thought that estate planning entailed drawing up a will and leaving it at that unless you were very wealthy. For them, it was a one-time event that only needed to be revisited in the event of a change in beneficiaries or distribution amounts.
These days however times have changed, and there are a number of different vehicles that are commonly used to transfer assets. In addition, new tax laws can create the need for the implementation of creative strategies to maximize tax efficiency for people who never had to concern themselves with estate tax in the past.
There is also a health care component to the modern estate plan that was unheard of in the past, and as people live longer and incapacity becomes more likely these instruments have become all but essential. Advance health care directives like living wills and health care proxies allow you to state your wishes regarding the medical procedures you will allow and who you empower to make health care decisions in your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.
The point is that estate planning is a process, and it is important to apply the current dynamic of your life at any given time to your existing estate plan. Estate planning fits right alongside the other responsibilities in your life that you have to address on an ongoing basis, and it is inextricably connected to the ebb and flow of your finances and the changes that take place within your family.
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