If you have an estate plan in place, you’re already far ahead of the curve. More than half of the adult population in the U.S. doesn’t have any estate planning documents such as a will or trust, according to a 2017 survey.
However, your work isn’t over yet. A lot can change in the time between creating your end-of-life plans and your actual end of life. You’ll want to review your estate plan periodically to ensure it still aligns with your wishes.
A good rule of thumb is that if your estate plan is three or more years old, it’s probably time to review it with your attorney. There are also specific circumstances and life events that may require you to revise your documents sooner.
Changes to the family
Families are prone to grow. Perhaps you welcomed a new child or grandchild into the world and wish to name them in your estate plan. You may also have new in-laws or stepchildren you want to include. Becoming married, remarried, divorced or widowed are all circumstances that can create a need for revisions.
Moving out of state
Estate planning laws vary from state to state. If you have moved across state lines, you’ll want to update your estate plan to ensure it is still effective in your new place of residence. This is also true if you purchase a second home out of state.
Changes to your assets
If the value of your estate has increased or decreased substantially, your estate planning documents must reflect this. You may wish to revise how your property is divided. If you’ve bought or sold a significant asset, such as a house or car, you’ll want to ensure it’s included in your end of life plans.
Choosing a new executor or trustee
The role of executor or trustee is a big undertaking. The person you choose will be responsible for carrying out your plans. Sometimes, the person you initially appointed for the role is no longer appropriate for the job. They may have passed on, developed a severe health condition or moved too far away. You can choose a new person for the position at any time.
Keeping on top of your estate plan may not be high on your to-do list, but it’s in the best interests of your loved ones. Reviewing your estate plan every few years will ensure your final wishes are upheld.