A lot of people delay making an estate plan. If you already have a will and perhaps some other documents, such as a trust, power of attorney or beneficiary designations, then you are already off to a good start. You are ahead of the curve. However, you should always remember that creating an estate plan is just the first step in what should be a continual process.
It is absolutely necessary to consistently review and update your estate plan over the years. Here is how you should go about looking at and potentially altering your estate plan.
Come up with a frequency that works for you
You should develop a schedule for looking over your estate plan at consistent intervals. You may do this quarterly, semi-annually, annually or something else that makes sense for your situation. At the very least, you should review your estate plan every five years. Once you determine a timeline for regular reviews, make sure you stick to it.
Review it when there are significant changes in your life
Aside from setting up intervals for reviewing your plan, there are certain instances that should prompt you to make immediate updates. Here are some things that may trigger you to take another look at your paperwork:
- A family member dies
- A birth or adoption occurs within your family
- A family member marries or divorces
- A child becomes 18 years old
- You acquire or lose a significant asset
- Your estate significantly increases or decreases in value
- The state or federal government passes new tax laws
If any of these events occur, make sure you update your will, trust or other necessary documents.
It is crucial to review your estate plan every few years at the very least. If your estate plan is outdated, the courts may not follow your current desires when you pass on, and your beneficiaries may suffer because of that.