When you create an estate plan, you protect yourself and the people you love. Your last will ensures that your property passes to the people you want to receive it. Your living will can help your loved ones take care of you and your finances if you wind up incapacitated.
A comprehensive estate plan may include multiple documents that take effect both during your life and after you die. Too many people create an estate plan and then never revisit it. The problem with this approach is that life inevitably changes.
The more inaccuracies there are in your estate plan, the easier it could be for someone in your family to challenge your wishes and possibly convince the courts to throw out your plan. How can you determine if it is time to review and update your estate plan?
If your assets have changed
Did you start a business, buy a house or acquire other valuable property? Did you sell off major assets that you previously had earmarked for certain family members?
If your estate plan talks about assets you no longer own or doesn’t allocate newer assets to specific people, those oversights could lead to challenges against your estate or decisions by an executor that don’t truly reflect your preferences.
If your family situation has changed
Your estate plan probably leaves property for your spouse and your children. You might even provide for siblings and parents.
When your family circumstances shift, whether someone dies or you have a new child, you may need to update your estate plan to remove people who don’t belong there or add people not previously included.
If you haven’t looked at your documents in a year or two
It is all too easy to lull yourself into a false sense of security that tells you your estate plan is already perfect. You may not recall all of the details about your documents, which makes it easy for you to assume there aren’t any issues with them.
Even if you haven’t had major property your family changes in the last few years, you may want to still invest some time in a review of your documents. You might be surprised to learn some of it seems very outdated based on your current situation.
Knowing when to update and modify your estate plan will help you maintain accurate and enforceable documents.