Too often, individuals develop a comprehensive estate plan and then avoid revising it after a major life event. In general, the estate plan should be revised to include new assets such as a car, house or family business, or changing values such as a stock portfolio or mature digital assets. There are certain life events, however, that should immediately necessitate an estate plan revision.
These major life events can include:
- Marriage or divorce: Either of these life events should lead to an immediate revision in your estate planning documents. Additionally, you should update your beneficiaries on any insurance policies or retirement accounts.
- Children: Children can account for a wide range of familial changes. From the birth of a child and adoption to children added to your family through marriage, it is crucial that you make the necessary revisions to your estate plan. Additionally, as children age you might need to change language regarding guardianship or trusts designed to benefit minor children.
- Death and changed relationships: You will likely have numerous people listed in your estate plan. From named heirs to those you trust with powers of attorney, it is likely that you will need to update this list as time passes. If an individual has passed away, he or she will need to be replaced in the plan. Additionally, if your friendship has faded or the individual decides they cannot perform the task as originally intended, they should likewise be replaced.
An estate plan is not a write-and-forget piece of documentation. Most experts agree that the entire plan should be reviewed every three to five years to ensure assets are updated and the family dynamic has remained the same. Elements of your estate plan such as the will, any trusts, and financial and medical powers of attorney need to reflect your wishes even when your wishes have changed.