Many people put an estate plan on their to-do list as a one-time project: “Create estate plan” or “Meeting with lawyer 10:30 a.m. Thursday for estate plan.”
When you’re creating a new estate plan, it’s natural to see that plan as a project. You’re creating something new when you work with a team to implement your plan. You create a positive change in your life by having a plan from not having one. And, you’re right. Setting up a trust or implementing your first estate plan certainly qualifies as a project.
But, the goal of the estate plan “project,” however, should transition into a planning process by which you check, evaluate, and update your will, trust and other legal documents regularly – perhaps once a year, but certainly every time you hit a major life milestone, like the birth of a child or grandchild, death of a family member, divorce, marriage, significant change in assets or income and the like. When your estate planning is viewed as a lifelong process, your plan is much more likely to serve your family’s needs, whatever they may be, when the time comes simply because you’ve been managing it proactively with each change in your circumstances. The same logic applies for business succession planning, particularly when other family members are involved in the business.