As a Grand Rapids estate planning attorney I am privileged to meet with great families and to hear their stories. Some of those stories are just starting, some have a good portion already written, and some have been finished. If you’re familiar with me or my previous posts, you will understand why the stories are so important to me and to the type of planning I work on with clients (read previous post here).
This past week I met with a couple that has a truly remarkable life story. We spent the better part of our meeting having them share the story they’ve written so far and how we could make sure their estate plan would help them write the rest of their story during their life and after they pass on.
During the conversation I discovered that they had previously done planning with another attorney over 20 years ago. And guess what? Their plan had not been looked at, reviewed or revised since then. Some of the documents couldn’t even be found. Now this didn’t surprise me in and of itself. I’ve met with many wonderful families that took their estate plan documentation home from their attorney’s office, stuck it on a shelf, let it gather dust and never thought of it again. There was no followup from their attorney other than they typical statement that “you should review your plan every 3 to 5 years, so give me a call then and we’ll review it.”
Yet for these great folks (and the others whose plans I’ve reviewed) time marched on. Their life changed, the law changed, their assets changed and the life story they are writing changed. In this particular case, the life story changed A LOT! So much so that they asked me, “our current plan is so far off base now, can we just go ahead and trash it and start over?”
After careful review and discussion of their 20+ year old plan, we did just that. We spent the next several hours designing a plan that was based on their story – their past, their present and their hopes for the future. And with a plan tailored to their specific story, they have added peace of mind.
But we didn’t stop there. They were delighted to hear about the Lichterman Law Difference and how we include ongoing 3 year reviews in all of our planning levels. Yes, that’s right. For no extra charge we followup with them every 3 years to review their plan, their story and how both relate to current law at that time. The key is that we followup with them every three years.
I know how life can be and more importantly, that you have a life! It doesn’t surprise me that few families review their plan every 3 to 5 years. Life is busy and it gets pushed to the side, if it’s even a thought. And yet here I am, an attorney whose passion is estate planning and I’m thinking about it every day. Seems like a no-brainer that I should followup with them. And that way you can enjoy life and continue writing your life story.
The key to the story is this – you have a story you are writing as you live your life, don’t let the story be tarnished by not having an estate plan or, potentially worse, having one that becomes “stale” and fails when it is needed most. Why wouldn’t you give us a call to ensure you have a plan the carries out your story (or revise your plan to help it “catch up”)? Call us at 616-827-7596 today!