Creating an estate plan can be a grim but necessary chore. If you already have your end of life plans in order, you’re far ahead of the curve. Only four in every 10 adults in the U.S. have a will, and the top reason cited for not having one is “I haven’t gotten around to it yet.”
However, having an estate plan doesn’t mean your work is over. Life is full of the unexpected, and there’s a good chance you are many years or even decades away from needing to put your end of life plan into action. Any changes that occur in the meantime must be reflected in your documents to safeguard your property and loved ones.
As a general rule of thumb, you should update your estate plan every three to five years, or when a significant life event occurs. A current estate plan will protect your assets and ensure your loved ones know what to do when the time comes.
There are countless reasons why you may wish to update your estate plan. Here are the more common life events that often require you to update your estate portfolio:
Marriage and divorce
Whether you tie the knot with your partner or part ways with a spouse, both marriage and divorce warrant a review of your estate plan. In the case of divorce, it’s essential to remove your ex-spouse as soon as possible if they are no longer a part of your wishes. If you marry or remarry, you’ll want to make you include your new partner in your plans.
Children and new family dynamics
Any new addition to your family may require you to update your estate plan. If you have a baby or minor child under 18, you’ll want to be sure you name a legal guardian in the event something happens to you and the other parent. If you remarry and have stepchildren or children in both your first and second marriage, you’ll need to name them in your plan if you want them to inherit part of your estate.
Circumstances can change for the beneficiaries you name, too. Perhaps someone has passed away or is no longer someone you want in your plan. If you named a relative as the executor of your will, but they have since moved away, you may consider another naming another person for the role. Ensure your beneficiaries are up to date and reflect your final wishes.
Estate plans must be revised from time to time to ensure your plans are dependable. By going over your plan every several years or after major life events, you protect your assets and give your loved one’s peace of mind.