Few people plan to die youngand almost everyone assumes they will live a relatively long time. Nothing brings reality into sharper focus than hearing about a family who suffers financially as a result of poor financial or estate planning. The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2014, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, brings this into focus. He had prepared a Will and  estate planning, but the document had not been updated or revised in a long time. This left his two younger daughters, who were born after his Will had been drawn, not mentioned or provided for in his Will. His Will should have been updated as his personal and family circumstances changed.

A good practice is to revisit your Will annually. This review should focus on identifying your assets, reviewing your current family situation,  and considering whether there are any changes in the tax laws that would affect you. It is important to remember that any tax law change or major change in one’s personal circumstancesthe birth of a child, the death of a spouse, a divorce, a marriage, even physical relocationmay require the revision of your Will and estate plans. Once personal wealth approaches higher levels, it is important to consult with competent advisors for help in properly planning.

As seen in the Hoffman situation, unexpected things can happenso if you are concerned about your assets being properly handled after your death, you should review your Will at least once a year.

There are three critical documents that you should have which should be reviewed periodically:               1) a Will, 2) a Power of Attorney document and 3) a Medical/Health-care Proxy.