Life does not stand still and neither should your estate plan.
Your life circumstances will very likely change after you have prepared your first estate plan. For instance, you may have more kids, acquire new assets, go through a divorce or legal separation, or the nature of your relationship may change with your relatives or friends named as beneficiaries in you initial estate plan. Such life changes will warrant that you amend/update your estate plan.
It is advisable that you to review your will or trust documents in addition to your inventory of assets and list of beneficiaries every 2 to 3 years to ensure that your previous decisions continue to satisfy your present needs. Indeed, you should consider estate planning not as a one-time chore, but as a developing process that works best if occasionally reviewed and updated if needed.
To help you make that decision, following is a list (no exhaustive) of questions you should ask yourself in considering whether you need to update your estate plan. A “yes” answer to any of these questions is a strong indication that your estate plan needs an update:
- Has your marital status changed since your last estate plan?
- Have any beneficiaries named in your estate plan died or has your relationship with any of those beneficiaries changed significantly since you prepared your estate plan?
- Has the executor of your will or trustee of your trust passed away?
- Has the mental or physical state of any of your beneficiaries, executor, or trustee changed significantly since you prepared your estate plan?
- Were any of your children born after you prepared the estate plan?
- Have your kids moved out of, or into, your home or have your children gone off to college?
- Have you moved to a different state?
- Have you sold, purchased, or mortgaged new real estate or business since you prepared your estate plan?
- Have you acquired any major assets, such as an expensive automobile, house, bank account, stocks etc. since your last estate plan?
- Have your financial or business circumstances (e.g., estate size, pension, wages, ownership) altered dramatically since your last estate plan?
- Has the relevant law changed in your state since you prepared your estate plan?