When should you update your estate plan?

Often people feel that once they have completed their estate planning documents there is no need to review the plan. Failing to periodically review your estate plan can result in unintended consequences that do not accomplish your intended goals. Best practice is to review your documents annually and upon the occurrence of major life events.

A change in your marital status should always prompt an update to your estate plan. If you have entered into a recent marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse, it is important to change the beneficiary designations on your life insurance, IRA’s, pension, retirement accounts, and investment accounts that are payable on death or transfer on death. Additionally, update any Powers of Attorney and trustee or executor designations under your will or trust.

The addition of new children through birth or adoption requires an update to your guardianship plan and including inheritance provisions for those children in your will or trust.

If you have a revocable living trust, upon the purchase or refinancing of real estate ensure that the property is retitled in the name of the trust.  Additionally, if you have changed your state of residence, check to see if the laws of your new state differ from the state where your documents were originally drafted.

Review the order of succession for trustees, executors, and agents under your trust, will, and Powers of Attorneys.  Always review the distribution provisions of your trust or will, especially if you have changed circumstances in family dynamics or your ideals no longer coincide with a particular charity that is a named beneficiary.

This list is by no means exhaustive or comprehensive, as each person’s reason for updating his or her estate will differ. However, it is intended to show that estate planning is a fluid concept that evolves as your life changes.