How often should you update your estate plan?

Creating an estate plan isn’t a task many people rush to take care of. In fact, most Americans put off estate planning. So, once you create an estate plan, you likely are glad you’ve finished it. However, will you need to revisit your estate plan? Are there specific times you should update your estate plan?

Often, the following are reasons you may need to update your estate plan:

  1. You decide to divorce or remarry. You may want to redistribute your assets to different people after you divorce or ensure your children from your first marriage receive some assets if you remarry.
  2. You have children or grandchildren. Any time you add new members to your family, you may want to allocate specific assets to them in your will. If you have a child, you want to name a guardian for them, so you can choose who will care for them if you pass away suddenly.
  3. You move to a new state or new country. Each state and country has its own rules about probate, wills and estate planning. You may need to update your estate plan to better reflect the laws where you live.
  4. Your spouse dies. You may decide you want to honor your spouse by passing some of your assets on to their favorite charity when you pass away. Or you may want to allocate specific assets to different beneficiaries when your spouse dies.
  5. Your named estate executor dies. You then need to name someone new to handle administering your estate when you die.
  6. You have a child who struggles with addiction or doesn’t manage their money well. You may want to establish a trust for that child, naming a trustee to manage your child’s inheritance in a prudent manner.
  7. You want to change your health care directive about your end-of-life care wishes. As you get older, you may change your mind about what lifesaving measures you want near the end of your life.

After you retire, you should consider updating your estate plan every five to seven years. You may want to name one of your adult children as your estate executor or financial power of attorney. You may receive a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis and want to prepare for when you become unable to make decisions on your own.

Working with an estate planning attorney to update your estate plan when needed is important. With an updated estate plan, you will have prepared well for the future and and have your final wishes honored.