Is it time to review and update your estate plan?

As we age, staying on top of our estate plan can feel like a chore, and may even seem unnecessary to some. Unfortunately, neglecting to update an estate plan is one of the easiest and quickest ways to cause problems for your loved ones and beneficiaries once you are gone. If you have an estate plan and have not reviewed or updated it in at least five years, then you should make this a priority.

Why is updating an estate plan so essential? If there are differences between the wishes laid out in your estate plan and your actual estate, it can prolong the process of administering the estate and may open your wishes to legal challenges. It is always good for your will and other estate planning documents to reflect the most current version of your estate and your wishes.

Life events that may impact your estate plan

There are many events in life that can have a big effect on your estate plan. You should review your documents if you experience

  • A marriage, divorce or remarriage
  • Death of a spouse, child or other beneficiary
  • Marriage or divorce of a beneficiary
  • Addition of a beneficiary, such as the birth or adoption of a child
  • Loss of relationship with a beneficiary
  • Significant increase or decrease in the value of your estate
  • Changes in personal perspective that may impact your wishes

Any of these events may create inconsistencies between your written wishes and the reality of your circumstances. In order for your estate plan to function the way that you intend, you must make sure that it reflects your current wishes and estate.

Changes in the law

Even those who do not experience these changes or events should review their estate plan every four or five years, to account for changes in estate planning laws. These laws can change without much publicity, and if your estate plan is not up to date with law, your beneficiaries may suffer.

In general, an estate plan that accurately reflects your most recent wishes for your estate and legacy serves your interests much better than an estate plan that reflects your wishes and estate from 10 years ago.

Make sure to respect your own wishes and the best interests of the ones you love by reviewing your estate plan after any of these changes, so that your legacy remains secure and your rights remain protected.

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