8 Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan
Updated: Apr 22
So you have an estate plan…. Woo-hoo!
Celebrate and give yourself a GIANT pat on the back. You are now more prepared than about 80% of Americans (whaaaaaaaaaaat??!).
(Don’t have one yet? I can help!)
But now what?
Don’t just throw it in a drawer and forget about it for the next decade. After you set up a trust and/or execute a will, make sure to plan ahead for a checkup.
Just like with dental cleanings, oil changes, and taxes, reviewing your estate plan is something that should be done periodically.
Some attorneys say yearly; some say every 5 years. My personal recommendation:
Meet with your estate planning attorney at least every three years to review your plan.
While the exact number isn’t the point here, regular review of your plan and planning documents is super important. That said, there are a few life events that should definitely lead to a review of your plan docs. Here are the top 8:
1. Marriage . . . or Divorce
Big life changes mean your estate plan needs to be revamped. Adding (or removing) a spouse can often invalidate your existing will or trust under some laws, so you want to make sure you get those documents updated pronto!
2. Buying or selling a house or other property
Adding a vacation home? Or just moving on from the starter home now that your family is growing? Congratulations! Now, it’s time to get that will or trust updated to include this new property purchase.
3. Having a child
Whether you’re having your first child or your fifth (or more!), you want your estate plan to make sure they’re all provided for, protected, and looked after. This might be as simple as adding their name, or you may choose to change how your property is divided amongst your children.
4. Children becoming adults
So your kids are growing up, huh? (I’m not crying, you are!) When your kids turn 18, the law views them as grown-ups (despite what us as their parents might believe!). You may choose to make an adult child a trustee or executor, or perhaps you need to change the distribution schedule for your trust based on what’s happening in their lives now.
5. Loss of a loved one
This is a tough one--I know. After a friend or family member passes, or maybe they’ve left the family after a divorce, grieving can take its toll. But if that individual was named in your estate plan (e.g., beneficiary, trustee, guardian for your kids), you’ll need to get those documents updated. Working with a compassionate estate planning attorney to update your will or trust will give a bit more peace of mind in the midst of your loss.
6. Substantial change in your assets
If you’ve had a significant change in your income, inherited a large amount of property, or maybe you've started a business, your estate plan will need to be updated to protect these new assets. Similarly, if you learn that you might be receiving a large inheritance in the future, that’s always a good thing to share with your estate planning attorney.
7. Moving to a new state
If you move to a new state, your current documents may no longer be applicable, and/or your new property may not be properly added to your trust. Different states also have different estate tax thresholds, so consult an attorney as soon as you get settled to make sure everything’s protected.
8. New legislation
Because both federal and state laws impact estate planning decisions, it’s important to make sure your documents comply with legal requirements and maximize any protections for you and your loved ones. With a new president and administration, it’s quite possible that there might be changes in the coming years. Your estate planning attorney can ensure everything is up to date.
Any of these situations ringing a bell? Whether you’ve already experienced a change, or you’ve got one coming up, reach out to me. We can review your current planning documents to make sure they’re accurate, up-to-date, and reflect your current wishes and goals. Don’t have an estate plan yet? No worries! Now is the perfect time to get started (check here for some easy ways to get a jump-start!).
Schedule your free, 15-minute virtual consultation so we can chat through your situation and find a tailored solution. I can’t wait to hear from you!