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When to Update Your Estate Plan

December 22, 2014

An estate plan is not a one-time, in-and-out procedure. The documents that make up your estate plan will significantly impact your life, your family, and your property after your death. To ensure everything occurs as you hope, it is vital you take the time to periodically review and update your estate plan. If you aren’t sure when to update your estate plan, scroll down to find out.

When to Update Your Estate Plan

To keep your estate plan up-to-date, plan to review and update it regularly. Depending on your life situation and how rapidly your life is changing, you might choose to review your estate plan once every quarter, twice a year, once a year, or once every three to five years. For most people, this last option is best because it requires fewer office visits and it suits the pace at which we tend to live our lives. Death creeps up on most of us, so you won’t have a warning to “get your affairs in order.” Instead, you need to make your estate plan a priority and avoid procrastination. Just imagine how frustrated you would be to learn that your ex-husband was now inheriting most of your estate. Or, what if you forgot to add your two newest grandchildren to your list of beneficiaries and they received nothing? For this reason, it’s important to update your estate plan when major life events occur, such as the following:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Birth or adoption of a grandchild
  • Death of your children’s guardian
  • Death of a family member or close friend
  • Death of your executor or trustee
  • Spouse becomes ill or disabled
  • Executor or trustee becomes ill or disabled
  • Beneficiary becomes ill and/or is receiving federal or state assistance
  • Great increase in assets
  • Great decrease in assets
  • Major career change
  • Change in life goals
  • Buying a new home
  • Borrowing a lot of money
  • Inheriting a large sum
  • Applicable federal/state law changes

If you think you will forget when to update your estate plan, keep a list of both the dates you have reviewed it and the dates in the future you should review it. The list should be kept somewhere you know you’ll reliably check every few months. Or, you could coordinate estate reviews and updates with another important date during the year. Perhaps you’ll contact your attorney every year on Tax Day, your spouse’s birthday, or even your anniversary to schedule an appointment. Finally, some attorneys will take care of this duty for you, by contacting you each year (or every two years) to discuss an annual (or biennial) review. Ask your attorney if they offer this service. Regularly reviewing your estate plan is essential if you want to ensure that your legacy is passed on according to your wishes. Don’t put it off and don’t make excuses. Life is full of twists and turns, and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could unknowingly leave behind an outdated and insincere inheritance. Now that you know when to update your estate plan, it’s time to get to it! If you need help creating, reviewing, or updating your estate plan and you live in southwest Missouri, contact the attorneys at LifeGen Law Group. We would be happy to help you build or update your estate plan. Give us a call at 417-823-9898 or click here to schedule a free consultation.