People frequently consider estate planning to be a difficult or stressful process, which means that procrastination in re: planning is very common. Even when someone overcomes the inertia preventing them from putting together estate planning paperwork, they might then set their documents aside and act as though they have protected themselves and their dependent family members permanently with the creation of a single document.
Unfortunately, that assumption is often incorrect, as someone’s estate planning needs will almost inevitably change as they go through life. If someone wants their estate plan to remain legally viable and protective for their family members, they will occasionally need to review and update their estate plan. Much like with the creation of an initial estate plan, it is far too easy for individuals to procrastinate when it comes to updating or revising existing documents. These are the two most common signs that it is time to review and potentially change and existing estate plan.
Significant family changes
People create estate plans in large part to protect their closest family members from financial hardship and stress during a medical emergency or after someone’s death. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that estate planning changes would be necessary if someone’s family situation has changed noticeably. Getting married or divorced, adding children to the family or losing a loved one to an early death are all very common reasons for people to revisit and drastically modify existing estate planning paperwork.
Major financial changes
Estate plans often address the need for support during incapacitation and the plans for the distribution of someone’s property after their death. Therefore, an estate plan needs to accurately reflect what resources someone has to their name. Those who acquire or liquidate major resources may need to update their estate planning paperwork to reflect what they have acquired or gotten rid of since initially drafting the documents.
It’s common for financial experts to recommend reviewing an estate plan every three to five years or at the very least every decade after its creation. People may want to develop the habit of routinely reconsidering their estate plan throughout their lives in addition to sitting down with a lawyer to update their paperwork when they experience major life changes.
Keeping an estate plan properly updated will give someone more control over their legacy and will diminish the likelihood of challenges undermining their estate planning efforts later.