When should someone update an estate plan?

When you finished creating your estate plan, you may have felt a well-earned sense of relief. Many people do not ever get around to making their estate plans, so if you have come this far, you may be in a better situation than many other people are. However, you are not done estate planning forever.

Estate plans work best when they are up-to-date. When an estate plan reflects current laws, your current situation and your current wishes, it should work as you intend it to work. However, life is full of changes. Estate planning laws can change, but your life can also change. When these changes occur, it can be beneficial to update your estate plan, so it always reflects current laws, your current situation and your current wishes.

What life changes can impact an estate plan?

To avoid running into problems with changing laws, most people will update their estate planning documents every one to three years. However, not all updates should be routine. If you have major life changes, it may be prudent to update your estate plan sooner rather than later.

Three common life changes that can warrant an update, include:

  • You moved
  • Your assets or liabilities changed
  • Your family changed

Moving your family to a new house or moving your business to a new location can impact your estate plan, especially if you cross state lines. Estate planning laws are state-specific, so you could end up with an estate plan that is not valid or does not work as intended in your new state. Even if you only move within Ohio, it may be worth reviewing your estate plan because your assets and liabilities could have changed.

When assets and liabilities change, it is important to update those changes in your estate plan. Buying or selling property of value, such as a home or business, could affect how you plan to have your property divided after your death. You do not want your plan to include property you no longer have or lack details about a newly acquired property. The overall value of your estate could also change the estate planning strategy that makes the most sense for your situation.

It may also be advantageous to update your estate plan when your family changes. This includes marriages, divorces, births, adoptions and deaths among those closest to you. It can also include changes in the way you feel about your loved ones. If you have a significant falling out with someone, it could affect who you choose for positions of trust and how you want your assets divided.

It is a great accomplishment to have completed your estate plan, and you deserve the peace of mind it gives you. However, as time goes on, it is important to consider how life’s changes may affect it. Updating your estate plan after appropriate life changes can help ensure your plan will work as you intend it to work when the time comes.

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