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3 signs that it’s time for someone to update their estate plan

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Those who have an estate plan on record are already ahead of the curve. A majority of adults in the United States do not currently have any estate planning paperwork on record. If they die, their families may need to undergo intestate succession proceedings because of the lack of estate planning preparation.

Unfortunately, those with an estate plan don’t always protect their families from complicated probate matters. Sometimes, people have very outdated documents that lead to arguments among their beneficiaries and potentially litigation in probate court. The best way to maximize the return on the time and money invested in estate planning is to occasionally revisit and update documents for enhanced personal protection.

When might it be time for someone to review and update their estate planning paperwork?

When family relationships change

One of the most common reasons to update an estate plan is a change in family circumstances. The birth of a child or grandchild might require the addition of new beneficiaries to the documents and a reallocation of someone’s resources. The premature death of a family member might necessitate their removal as a beneficiary or from positions of authority. Divorce and even estrangement might warrant someone changing their estate planning documents as well. Remarriage can also create unique concerns for those beginning of blended family. Any substantial changes to family circumstances may warrant updates to estate planning documents.

When health expectations change

A basic estate plan usually reflects someone’s belief that they may die of natural causes decades in the future. A sudden diagnosis of a terminal illness or the discovery of a degenerative condition could alter someone’s needs and wishes. From changes to someone’s will or the creation of a trust to the decision to draft powers of attorney and advance directives for healthcare matters, there are many estate planning updates that could be necessary when someone must adjust to changes in their health.

When financial circumstances shift

Maybe someone’s small business takes off, and their personal holdings suddenly sore in value. Perhaps someone acquires particularly valuable assets, such as real property, that require specific instructions in an estate plan. Changes in economic circumstances often necessitate updates to estate planning documents. People need to account for good fortune by distributing their new assets among their family members and beneficiaries. They may also need to adjust their estate plans in cases where economic struggles could potentially affect the legacy they leave after they die.

Taking the time to revisit and update estate planning documents is often as important as choosing to draft paperwork in the first place.