Updating Your Will: When and Why You Should Review Your Estate Plan

Changes in family circumstances, financial circumstances, health, the law, and goals and priorities can all impact your estate plan.

Updating Your Will: When and Why You Should Review Your Estate Plan

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Estate planning is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Life changes, and your estate plan needs to change with it. To make sure your wishes are still accurately reflected in your will, it’s important to review and update it regularly.

Why You Should Review Your Estate Plan

There are many reasons why you might need to review and update your estate plan. Here are some of the most common:

Changes in Family Circumstances

If you’ve experienced a significant change in your family circumstances, such as a marriage, divorce, birth, or death, you should review your estate plan to make sure it still accurately reflects your wishes. For example, you may need to update beneficiary designations or change the distribution of your assets.

Changes in Financial Circumstances

If your financial circumstances have changed, such as a significant increase or decrease in your assets or income, you may need to update your estate plan to ensure your wishes are still being met. For example, you may need to revise your charitable giving plans or adjust your tax planning strategies.

Changes in Health

If your health has deteriorated, you may need to update your estate plan to ensure that you have appropriate healthcare directives in place. You may also need to review your powers of attorney to ensure that the right person is making financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf.

Changes in the Law

Laws related to estate planning can change over time, so it’s important to review your estate plan periodically to make sure it’s still up-to-date with the latest legal requirements. This is especially important if you’ve moved to a different state or if there have been significant changes in tax laws.

Changes in Goals and Priorities

As your life progresses and your goals and priorities evolve, your estate planning needs may change as well. For example, if you’ve started a business or acquired new assets, you may need to update your estate plan to ensure that they are properly accounted for. Similarly, if you’ve become more involved in charitable work or philanthropy, you may want to revisit your charitable giving plans to make sure they align with your current priorities.

How Often to Review and Update Your Will

So, how often should you review and update your estate plan? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer – it depends on your individual circumstances. However, here are some general guidelines:

Review Your Estate Plan Every Three to Five Years

In general, it’s a good idea to review your estate plan every three to five years, even if there haven’t been any significant changes in your life. This will help ensure that your estate plan is still relevant and that your wishes are being met.

Review Your Estate Plan After Significant Life Changes

If you’ve experienced a significant change in your family, financial, or health circumstances, you should review your estate plan as soon as possible to make sure it still reflects your wishes.

Consult with Your Attorney

Your attorney can help you determine how often you should review and update your estate plan based on your individual circumstances. They can also help ensure that your estate plan is up-to-date with the latest legal requirements and that your wishes are being met.

Some additional tips and considerations for updating your estate plan:

  • Make sure you have the right documents in place. In addition to a will, you may need other estate planning documents, such as a trust,
  • power of attorney, healthcare directives, and beneficiary designations. Your attorney can help you determine which documents are appropriate for your individual circumstances.
  • Make sure your beneficiaries are up-to-date. You should review and update beneficiary designations for retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets to ensure they are consistent with your estate plan.
  • Consider tax implications. Changes in tax laws can have a significant impact on your estate plan, so it’s important to review your plan with an eye towards tax planning.
  • Consider charitable giving. If you’re involved in charitable work or philanthropy, you may want to consider incorporating charitable giving into your estate plan. Your attorney can help you explore different options for charitable giving, such as setting up a charitable trust or leaving a bequest in your will.
  • In summary, updating your estate plan is an important part of the estate planning process. Regularly reviewing and updating your will and other estate planning documents can help ensure that your wishes are still being met and that your estate plan is up-to-date with the latest legal requirements. If you’re unsure whether it’s time to update your estate plan, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help guide you through the process.

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