When should someone make changes to their existing estate plan?

by | Feb 28, 2024 | Estate Planning

Those who have created thorough estate plans are already ahead of the proverbial curve. It is quite common for adults to procrastinate about estate planning, a choice that might eventually mean someone dies without an estate plan on record.

For those who have created estate plans, regular review of existing documents is typically necessary to ensure that those documents still meet their needs and achieve their personal wishes. It is beneficial for those with existing estate plans to review and occasionally update their documents.

After major life changes

What someone needs from an estate plan changes based on the property that they have, the relationships they maintain and their personal health challenges. Whenever there are major adjustments to someone’s family, such as a birth, death, marriage or divorce, significant estate planning updates may be necessary. People may need to add or remove beneficiaries. They may also need to change who holds a position of authority in their estate plan.

Revisions also frequently follow significant changes in personal financial circumstances. The acquisition or sale of major assets may make estate planning updates necessary. Changes in someone’s health may also affect the estate planning needs they have. Someone’s prior medical wishes may change when they learn they have a terminal illness, for example.

After a few years have passed

Occasionally, someone creates an estate plan while in a relatively stable situation. They may not acquire valuable property, sell off personal holdings or change any of their relationships for years. Therefore, they may not have any obvious reason to update their documents.

However, it is still usually advisable to occasionally review estate planning paperwork every few years to see if it remains an accurate reflection of someone’s wishes and relationships. Even without any drastic shifts in personal circumstances, people may come to realize that their current estate planning paperwork does not adequately protect them. They will, therefore, need to update their documents to make them as accurate and protective as possible.

Committing to regular updates to estate planning documents can help ensure that people have control over their protections as they age and their legacy after they die.


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