You don’t want to make an estate plan and then ignore it for years or decades. Certainly, it’s better to have a plan than to not create one at all. But drafting a plan that is then neglected can also be very problematic because that plan may become outdated. Once a plan is outdated, it may not reflect your wishes accurately and/or may no longer be effectively enforceable.
You may choose to update your plan on an annual basis or a biannual basis. You can set up a schedule and make whatever updates are appropriate at that time. Another tactic is to update your plan when key life events occur.
The birth of an heir
If a child or grandchild is born into your family, it’s time to update your plan to reflect their interests in your estate.
The onset of an illness
Estate plans can be used to help make medical decisions via advance directives and powers of attorney. If you’re diagnosed with a serious illness, it’s worth planning for your medical future.
A change in marital status
Getting married or divorced means that your plan needs to be updated to either include your new spouse or to remove a previous one. Getting remarried also means an update will be necessary. Otherwise, the state may enforce your plan as-is, regardless of your current relationships to those named within your documents.
The sale of significant assets
There may be major physical assets that you once planned to leave to your heirs, like a family home. If you sell any of these assets in advance, you’ll want to remove them from your plan.
The death of an heir
In some cases, an heir or beneficiary will be listed in your estate plan, but then they will pass away before you do. It will then be important to remove them and reconsider how to distribute their assets to other beneficiaries.
These are just some of the reasons to update your estate plan. When these kinds of significant life events happen, be sure you know exactly what legal steps to take to adjust your plan in enforceable ways.