It is quite common for people to assume that their estate planning documents are valid and will protect them for the rest of their lives. They draft documents once and then set them aside, never to revisit them. These people may have failed to consider how their changing life circumstances may require updates to their documents.
Even when testators choose to make changes to their existing paperwork, they might focus on their will or trust and not on the living documents that protect them in the event of a personal emergency. Power of attorney documents are often someone’s last line of defense after experiencing some kind of personal emergency. There are certain times in life when it may be necessary for a testator to update their existing powers of attorney. When might such adjustments be necessary?
After changes in personal relationships
People often name their closest loved ones as those who will hold positions of authority in their estate plans. Spouses and children could serve as someone’s agent. Divorce or estrangement, as well as someone’s relocation to another state or death, might necessitate updates to documents to replace one agent with a more practical choice.
When their health circumstances change
Someone recently diagnosed with a terminal, progressive or chronic medical condition may have different opinions about the medical care they would like to receive than they did previously. Their family members may not necessarily fully aligned with them on their new preferences, and they may therefore need to adjust both the authority that they designate and the agent that they name to reflect their new circumstances.
When their financial resources change
Financial powers of attorney can be as important as medical documents. When someone gives up ownership of a business or downsizes from a house that they own to a rental property, they may need to adjust the instructions that they provide for the maintenance of their financial resources.
Essentially, any major change to someone’s finances, health or relationships may make it a smart decision to review and update existing estate planning paperwork. Keeping powers of attorney up to date can help optimize the level of protection that someone has if a medical emergency renders them incapable of managing their own affairs.