Contrary to popular belief, preparing all the documentation for an estate plan is, unfortunately, not a “fix-it-and-forget-it” scenario. Not only do desires and goals change and evolve over time, but so do personal financial circumstances. New York and federal laws surrounding estate planning often change. For this reason and others, experts recommend that individuals review all relevant documentation — including powers of attorney, wills and advance medical directives — around every three years.

A good practice for life insurance policies, retirement accounts and similar assets is to review all beneficiary designations from time to time. Some individuals also choose to designate a second beneficiary, just in case the primary beneficiary passes away before they do. Frequently reviewing all documentation with an estate planning attorney may also be helpful, if only to ensure that all of the paperwork is correct, up-to-date and properly executed. 

Another important consideration is ensuring family members and loved ones are aware of where to find important and relevant estate planning documents. Individuals may find it helpful to create a list of essential papers — including wills and trusts, deeds, financial statements and insurance policies — and where to locate them. This list could also include information such as online passwords, and the identity of the individual’s estate planning lawyer, insurance agent, accountant and other important professionals.

When estate planning is done properly with the help of an experienced New York attorney, the end result is an efficient and relatively low-stress transition of assets to beneficiaries. An estate planning lawyer can help work to keep court costs and legal fees low, and focus on avoiding as many taxes as possible. Planning ahead now and reviewing the relevant documents on a frequent basis can help circumvent many of the challenges and road bumps that could potentially arise during the administration of an individual’s estate.

Source:, “Review your estate plan every 3 years“, Bonnie Kraham, March 22, 2017