Old Documents

What does the phrase old documents mean when referring to Estate Planning documents. Although this would seem to hinge on a number of years, it does not. There are no hard and fast rules, but here are a few things to consider.

Any Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, Advance Directive (Living Will) that is valid when and where it was executed is valid unless something has happened to revoke the document or make it invalid. So, Mom’s Will from the 1980s is very likely still valid.

Some events cause a document to become invalid even though it was once valid. The best example of this is divorce. Another example is tearing, or marking through, a once valid document. In the case of a will, handwriting additions to the Will and marking on the document can make it invalid.

There are other events that make these documents ill advised or inadequate. For instance, most Power of Attorney forms executed in standard statutory form do not include unlimited gifting authority. Most of these documents either give no gift powers or limit the gift powers to an amount that can be transferred without having to report the gift to the IRS. However, as people age, the ability of their powers of attorney to make uncompensated transfers in a strategic way may become essential to preserving a family estate by taking advantage of Nursing Home benefits under Medicaid.

We advise seeing an attorney no less often that every 10 years for a review of these basic documents.

This article is written by an attorney at Wyatt & Mirabella, PC. Always consult an attorney before making any legal decisions. To make an appointment today for a free consultation, please click here to contact us.