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Remember to review and update your estate plan regularly

Estate planning is an incredibly important way to safeguard your family’s future when you are no longer around, as well as a way to leave a legacy. Despite the importance of having a solid estate plan in place, many people put it off for years. Some never have the chance to start one due to an untimely death.

If you already have an estate plan in place, you are ahead of the curve and should feel good about what you have accomplished. However, estate planning isn’t a “one-and-done” deal. Chances are good that a will drafted 15 years ago would look a lot different from one drafted today. Because we experience many changes throughout life, it is important to review your estate plan at least once a year.

An important cautionary tale is James Gandolfini, the actor who played Tony Soprano on “The Sopranos.” He died suddenly and unexpectedly just over a year ago at the age of 51 and left behind a 9-month-old daughter.

Mr. Gandolfini had drafted an estate plan but it was out of date. He did not update it to reflect the birth of his daughter or the significant rise in income as his career began to flourish. As a result, about 80 percent of James Gandolfini’s estate was taken by the government in taxes.

One of the only constant forces in life is change. In order to make sure that your estate plan accounts for the new realities that come with change, please plan to review and update it at least once a year.

Source: Valley Business Journal, "Yearly Review: The Most Critical Part Of Every Estate Plan," Elliot H. Stone, Aug. 1, 2014

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