When Should My Estate Plan be Updated?
May 4, 2022 / Estate Planning
Estate planning is about protecting yourself, your family, and your finances. The AARP reports that only 4 in 10 U.S. adults have set up an estate place. Of course, an out-of-date estate plan will not provide much in the way of protection. To be truly effective, your estate plan should be both customized to meet your needs and reviewed on a periodic basis.
This raises an important question: When do you need to update your estate plan? As a general rule, it is a best practice to have your estate plan reviewed and, if necessary, revised after a major life event. In this article, our estate planning lawyers highlight four of the most common reasons why an estate plan should be updated.
1. Marriage or Divorce
Are you preparing to get married or get divorced? A change in marital status qualifies as a major life event for the purposes of estate planning. Do not assume that your estate plan will automatically update to meet your changing needs. When you get married, you will want to make sure that your estate plan documents fully reflect the needs of you and your spouse.
Similarly, when you get a divorce, you should update your estate plan accordingly. Depending on your situation, you may or may not want to take your former spouse out of your estate plan. An experienced estate plan lawyer can review the documents that you have in place and help you revise your plan to meet your goals.
2. Birth of a Child (or Grandchild)
Another one of the most common reasons to update an estate plan is the birth of a child or a grandchild. If you have a child—whether your first child or you already have children—you will want to make sure that your estate planning documents are fully updated to meet the needs of your growing family. Among other things, this means ensuring that a guardian is named for your child should something happen to you/your spouse and ensuring that your new child is named as an heir.
For many grandparents, the birth of a grandchild may also be a good time to get your estate plan updated—especially if it is your first grandchild. Whether anything will need to be changed to account for a grandchild depends on the specific structure of your estate plan. A skilled estate planning lawyer will be able to help.
3. Financial Changes (Purchase of Property, Retirement, etc)
Wealth management and asset preservation are key goals of estate planning. If you recently experienced any sort of significant change to your financial circumstances, it is a good time to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney for a comprehensive review. Some notable examples of major financial changes include:
- The purpose of real estate;
- The buying or selling of a business;
- Inheritance of significant assets from a parent/grandparent; and
Whether or not a financial change will require an update to your estate plan depends entirely on your specific circumstances. An estate planning attorney will make sure that your current documents provide an adequate amount of protection given your changing financial situation.
4. Major Health Changes
Finally, any sort of major health change—either to you, your spouse, your child, or another very close family member—could warrant a revision to your estate plan. As an example, you may need to update your estate planning documents if you developed a serious injury or another disability medical condition. Alternatively, a loved one’s changing health needs could also require a revision to your estate plan.
For instance, imagine that your spouse has your springing power of attorney (POA) to protect you in the unfortunate event that you become unable to manage your own legal and financial affairs. If your spouse’s medical condition has changed, it may be time to revise that document. Perhaps an adult child would be better suited for that role. An estate planner lawyer can help you develop the plan that is most effective for your goals and your needs.
Get Help From Our Estate Planning Lawyers Today
At EstateGenius, we help clients put the pieces of the estate planning puzzle together—with a focus on providing personalized legal guidance and support. If you have any questions or concerns about reviewing or revising an estate plan, we are more than ready to help. Call us now or connect with us online for your fully confidential initial estate planning consultation. We provide estate planning services in several jurisdictions, including in California, Washington, and Michigan.