After creating your estate plan, you, like many people, might have thought you would have no need to update it frequently – or at all. If your relationships are stable and your plans for your assets are firm, you may see no point in making any changes. Yet, life happens, and you will not want a major event to make your plan’s provisions outdated. By knowing when you need to update your estate plan, you can stay in control of what happens to your assets.
Events that require updates
Updating your estate plan for minor changes in your life is, in most cases, unnecessary. Rather, you will want to revisit it after a major event occurs. Doing so is imperative, since you will want to make sure your plan is current in case something happens to you. Failing to update it could cause your assets to end up in the wrong hands or in probate court. And it could also cause confusion and conflict among your beneficiaries, especially if you communicated intentions to them that differ from your plan’s provisions.
Some events that may require you to update your estate plan include:
- Marriage, remarriage or divorce
- The marriage, remarriage or divorce of a beneficiary
- The birth of a child or grandchild
- The 18th birthday (age of majority) of a child
- The death of a beneficiary or your executor
- Estrangement from a beneficiary or your executor
- The purchase or sale of major assets
- The significant gain or loss in value of major assets
- The diagnosis of a serious illness or medical condition
- Moving to a different state or country
- Changes to state or federal tax laws
The importance of periodic updates
Even when your life remains free from major events, you will still want to give your estate plan periodic reviews. Revisiting it every three to five years will help you make sure its provisions remain current. If you want to add assets to your plan that you had left out, or if your intentions have changed, a periodic review gives you the opportunity to make the appropriate adjustments.
A current estate plan can give you peace of mind during your lifetime and protect your assets after it. By consulting a legal professional, you can make sure the provisions set forth in your plan reflect your circumstances.