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Changing Circumstances, Changing Plans

One of the most valuable aspects of a comprehensive financial and estate plan is the ability of a person to adapt their plan to changing circumstances. Unlike much of the planning in the past – a static approach to the future focused on the situation at one point in time  – a truly useful plan must be subject to both regular review and change as needed.

A basic part of this ongoing monitoring of plans is obvious – have your goals and needs changed? These changes could be for many reasons and generally it is straightforward to incorporate them in your planning as amounts or timing or perhaps even the nature of the goals change over time. Less obvious may be how your investment allocation could differ given changes in your time horizon, in the applicable tax laws, in the markets and the products available therefrom. Here you may well seek advice from a financial adviser or other sources.

One area of this process which is often neglected but which can pay huge dividends in your planning is the array of estate planning documents: the terms of your will, durable power of attorney/health care powers, and, where applicable, your revocable trust. These documents may or may not make provision for what you presently want and need whether you become incapacitated or die early. The good news is that these documents are generally freely amendable and may be altered to suit your circumstances, including your goals and expectations. These documents will generally benefit from the attention of a knowledgeable attorney, though other advisors may help identify issues and possible solutions as a part of the process.

As you can see, there is a lot to be aware of and consider whether you are very wealthy or among the mass affluent. In all cases, regular review and implementation of changes as necessary will make your plans more likely to help you and your loved ones achieve your goals and address the constant tests and demands that life throws at us all. If this seems like a lot of work, enlist the assistance of professionals, including of course your financial adviser, attorney or accountant to help with the process. If something does happen, your family will appreciate your having put planning in place to address the possibilities.  

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