Besides failing to have an estate plan, a common error in estate planning is failing to update your estate plan. If you already have an estate plan in place, you have done a lot of the work already, but your work is not done. We recommend reviewing your documents annually to account for any changes in your life and any changes in the law. If such changes affect your document(s), then it is time to update your document(s).

For example, the person you chose as the Personal Representative of your estate under your Will or the Agent under a Power of Attorney may no longer be appropriate because of health issues, death, divorce, marriage, geography or other reasons. This could also be the case for an individual set to receive a portion of your estate upon your death. Maybe you have obtained additional property since executing your Will and you would like for it to go to a specific person.

Changes in the law can also cause your documents to be outdated. For instance, recent laws have increased the federal estate tax exemption and the Maryland estate tax exemption. These changes may make prior appropriate estate tax planning obsolete as there is less need for sophisticated tax schemes.

Due to changes in the law, you also want to ensure that your Power of Attorney is a Statutory Form Power of Attorney so that acceptance by third parties (like banks) is more likely. If you have an old Healthcare Power of Attorney, you may need to update it if it does not include a HIPAA medical privacy waiver. You want your document to waive HIPAA restrictions for those who would make medical decisions for you and for others to whom your medical information should be provided.

If you have an estate plan already, then you have started off on the right path. However, we urge you to review your documents regularly so that they continue to do exactly want you want them to do.