While it would be nice if an Estate Plan were something that we could just set and forget,
the reality is a well-crafted plan involves consistent review and upkeep in order to ensure
all of your t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted. Depending on your age and life situation,
you may update your plan more often than others, but it’s always a good rule of thumb to
review your plan at least annually — or more frequently if changes in circumstances
Here are five times when it’s vitally important you review and update your Estate Plan:
1.) You gain a new family member, or lose one. Whether it’s the birth of a child, the
death of a loved one, or a marriage or divorce, this is a key time to review your
Estate Plan. Make sure that those named in your plan are the people to whom you
still want your assets to be given after you pass away, and take the opportunity to
update your Living Will, Last Will and Testament, Trusts, and any other key
documents that may be impacted by the changes to your family.
2.) Your assets or liabilities change. If you bought or sold a property, have incurred
an increased amount of debt or paid it off, or any other major changes to your
financial picture, these adjustments need to be reflected in your Estate Plan.
3.) Your executors/trustees need to change. Choosing someone to be in charge of
your trust or your estate after you die is a major decision, and while oftentimes a
lot of thinking goes into the initial appointment, circumstances can change over
time. Be sure to review if those you’ve appointed are still the ones you want to
handle this task, or if they’re still able to do so. If not, it’s time for an update.
4.) You have a major lifestyle change. If you’re retiring, moving from one state to
another, or perhaps moving from your own home into an assisted living facility,
your priorities and wishes may change. These major moves are a good time to
take a look at all of your Estate Plan documents but in particular any medical
directives, your Living Will, and your Last Will and Testament. If you’ve moved
out of state, be sure to review the state-specific laws that may impact some of the
facets of your Estate Plan — policies can vary greatly across state lines!
5.) It’s been more than three years since you reviewed it. Ideally, you’re reviewing
your Estate Plan on a more regular basis, but if you’re reading this list and
realizing it’s been a while, there’s no time like the present!
Remember, this is not an exhaustive list, and depending on your individual circumstances you
may need to review more frequently — your attorney will know best!