Knowing when to update an estate plan is critically important to the effectiveness of an estate plan. For an estate plan to achieve its purpose, it needs to be kept up to date and there are several important times that estate planners should double check their estate plan in case it needs to be updated.
Checklist of times to review and update an estate plan
Time to update an estate plan can include:
- The beneficiaries named in the estate plan are deceased;
- New beneficiaries should be named in the will because of birth, adoption or other relationship or life change;
- New state law the estate plan needs to be in compliance with. Each state has legal requirements for wills that must be met;
- The estate planner needs to update guardians, personal representatives or trustees in the estate plan;
- Children included in the estate plan have reached the age of 18;
- There is a substantial increase or decrease in the value of the estate planner’s estate or they have acquired or disposed of a substantial asset;
- The estate planner has reached a certain age that impacts their retirement distributions; or
- Following the passage of time but especially three to five years.
It is important to review an estate plan from time to time
On many occasions, estate planners will complete their estate plan and sign their will and put it away and it will not be looked at again until it is needed. At that point, it is too late to update it which is why estate plans should be routinely reviewed and updated and should especially be updated whenever the estate planner experiences a major life change.