Estate planning is not a one-time event. Once you have your initial plan and documents in place, you and I will need to review them periodically. Changes in the law and significant life events may alter your goals and require changes to your estate planning documents.
Although your documents are drafted to account for foreseeable changes, there is no substitute for keeping your plan up to date. Failure to do so can lead to litigation among your heirs and a result you would not be happy with.
Review Your Estate Plan at Regular Intervals
Estate plans need to be reviewed and updated periodically. What you may need in your 20s for an estate plan will certainly be different than what you will need in your 60s. Once you have established your estate plan, make sure it stays sound by revisiting it at regular intervals. Reviewing your estate plan at regular intervals, at least every 3 to 5 years, will help ensure that your documents express your current wishes and that your beneficiaries receive their benefits as smoothly as possible.
Review Your Estate Plan after Major Life Events
In addition to regular reviews, it’s a good idea to review and update your estate plan after life events such as the following:
1. Your marriage or divorce.
2. The birth or adoption of a new child or grandchild.
3. The death or change in circumstances of the guardian named in your will for minor children.
4. Changes in the number of your dependents, such as the addition of a dependent adult.
5. A child or grandchild becomes an adult.
6. A child or grandchild needs educational funding.
7. A change in your or your spouse’s financial or other goals.
8. The death, illness, or disability of your spouse or other family members.
9. A change in your life or long-term care insurance coverage.
10. The purchase of a home or other large asset.
11. Borrowing a large amount of money or taking on liability for any other reason.
12. Large increases or decreases in the value of your assets.
13. The receipt of a large inheritance, gift, or another windfall by you or your spouse.
14. The death or change in circumstance of your executor, trustee, or agents under a durable power of attorney or health care durable power of attorney.
15. Career changes, such as a new job, promotion, or opening or closing of a business.
16. A change of residency to a different state.
17. Your diagnosis with a serious or terminal illness.
18. Changes occur in federal or state laws covering taxes and investments.
I will be happy to meet with you to review your estate plan periodically and after major life events. Should you decide you need to make changes in your estate plan for whatever reason, don’t hesitate to contact me. Please do not attempt to revise the documents on your own. Do-it-yourself revisions can lead to unintended and sometimes disastrous consequences.