An outdated estate plan may retain control of testators’ legacies even if they made informal changes elsewhere. Because many courts reference legal documents to close an estate, it is critical for people to keep their plans updated.
Significant life changes may impact an estate or change the way people want to distribute their assets. Timely updates can prevent disappointment and help testators maintain control of their wealth.
When to make changes
Many people name their family members as beneficiaries of their assets. These may include children, spouses, grandchildren or other extended families. Events such as births, deaths, marriages and even divorce may change relationships or personal opinions of one another. Similarly, remarriage and adoption may also create the need to modify aspects of an estate plan.
Factors unrelated to familial relationships can also disrupt estate planning efforts. According to Caregiver.com, this may include substantial changes to your wealth by way of an inheritance or a notable increase in your income. Still, a move across state lines, changing tax laws and economic events may all have an effect on an estate plan.
How to make it official
Even if people do not experience any significant changes in their lives, a periodic review of their plan can help them identify ways to strengthen it. According to CNN, people should review their plans every few years. Hiring an attorney to assist with this process may reduce confusion. An attorney can help people review and modify any outdated aspects to maintain the integrity of their plan.
Most importantly, people should remember that simply writing their desired changes down and putting them away may not be enough to stand in a court of law. Rather, they should make immediate changes to formal legal papers to standardize their final wishes across all estate planning documents