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Periodic review important for estate planning

Many people in Pennsylvania want to be assured that they have already taken care of their family and protected their assets through the creation of an estate plan. However, changes in one's life as well as legal changes may mean that a person's estate planning documents have become outdated. It is important to provide a regular review and examination of key items in order to ensure that they reflect a person's current wishes; experts advise a review after major life changes like marriage, divorce and the birth of children or grandchildren or every 10 years.

While everyone should have a will, financial power of attorney and advanced medical directive as part of their basic estate planning documents, the text of those items can vary from person to person. Many people review their plans upon the birth of a new child or grandchild to ensure they are included as a beneficiary of the estate; others need to review their documents in order to remove beneficiaries with whom they no longer are close. During this process, it can also be important to set up trusts to handle gifts to minor children in the future.

The executor named in the will can also be an important name to update and review. If a person who is unavailable or deceased is named, the probate court will need to select and appoint a replacement, a process that could add time and expense to the process.

An estate planning attorney may provide advice and guidance on changes to the estate tax exemption and other tax law changes that could spur additional revisions of a person's estate plan. By reviewing wills and other estate documents and ensuring that they are up to date, a person may help their family to have an easier time after their passing while protecting the assets contained in the estate.

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