If you’ve created your initial estate plan, then you probably breathed a sigh of relief once all of your legal documentation was finalized. It’s a major accomplishment, and one that many people put off for far too long. So, you deserve a pat on the back.
You should also feel confident that you’ve given yourself, your loved ones, and your assets the protection that’s deserved.
But as time goes on, it’s important to remember that life changes. And as major life events occur, the terms that you’ve placed in your estate planning documents may no longer align with your wishes. If you don’t go back and revisit your estate plan, though, then your assets could end up being distributed in a way that is contrary to what you wanted.
So, when should you modify your existing estate plan?
As a practical matter, you should revisit your estate plan every couple of years so that you can remind yourself of what’s in those legal documents and can better gauge if they still suit your needs. Outside of that, you should make sure to take another look at your legal documentation when major life events occur, including any of the following:
- Marriages: If you want to adequately provide for your children and grandchildren, then you need to make sure that you’ve structured your estate plan in a way that ensures that your assets pass down as you see fit. However, if you fail to include your child’s new spouse in your estate plan, for example, then if your child passes away before you do, then that line of your family may be cut out of your estate distribution altogether.
- Divorces: On the flip side, keeping a now ex-spouse in your estate plan can end up diverting some of your assets to someone who is no longer in your family and who has no interest in keeping those financial resources in your family. Therefore, you’ll want to consider removing these individuals from your estate plan.
- Deaths: If one of your named heirs or beneficiaries passes away, then you’ll want to remove them from your estate plan so that you can avoid any unintended confusion when your assets are distributed.
- Births: The welcoming of a new child into the family is a good reason to revisit your estate plan. If you don’t, then your own child or grandchild could miss out on inheriting what you otherwise would want them to receive.
- Changed relationships: If you have a falling out with a loved one, then you might want to consider revisiting your estate plan to remove that individual from your plan. Otherwise, your assets will fall into the hands of someone you don’t want to inherit and who may use those assets contrary to your wishes.
- The acquisition of new assets: Although your estate plan probably has some sort of catch-all provision that directs how newly acquired assets will be handled, you might want to be more specific with your larger and newer assets. Therefore, it’s a good idea to address these assets specifically in your estate plan.
Stay on top of your estate plan
You worked hard to create the strong initial estate plan that you want and need. Don’t let all of that go to waste by neglecting your estate plan over time.