When to update your will and estate plan

by author

Big changes in your life can lead you to reconsider your goals and review your will and estate plan documents. Reassessing your plans after a major life event can help ensure that you are protecting your loved ones and assets. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that you will forget to make the appropriate changes to your will and estate plan.

Some life changes that may prompt you to upgrade include:

  • Change in Assets: If you experience a significant increase or decrease in your assets, or if you have liquidated or transferred an asset, you may need to take another look at your will and estate plan. Verify that all of your assets are accounted for in your plan and that you have selected the appropriate beneficiaries.
  • Job change: Starting a new job or retirement can significantly alter your income. After changes like these, you may need to reassess your long-term savings and how your new income stream will affect your end-of-life plans.
  • Marital Status Change: Any marital event in your family, be it a marriage or a divorce, should instruct you to review and edit your insurance and estate plan documents. Changes in your marital status can make it very important for you to update the beneficiaries or reassess how you want to transfer your estate.
  • Births: Along the same lines as marital changes, new additions to your family should encourage you to review your plans. For example, you may want to add your new baby as a beneficiary of an insurance or trust plan. Also consider whether you want to pass your assets in another way after the birth of a family member.
  • Deaths: Losing a loved one may require you to update your beneficiary or legal guardian designations and your estate plan. This is important to ensure that your estate plan follows your wishes. For example, if a beneficiary dies and no alternate beneficiaries are listed, their distribution may be decided by state law.
  • Changes in Federal or State Laws: Laws can change over time and vary by state. Stay up-to-date with federal and state laws to ensure your legal documents are legitimate and effective. Changes in tax laws may also lead you to review your estate transfer plans.

Regardless of whether a specific life event or legal change occurs, it is smart practice to review your estate and estate plan every five years. Working with financial and legal professionals to help draft legal documents can also help you create effective plans for your estate.



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