Many people procrastinate drafting an estate plan, so if you already have an estate plan, you may be a step or two ahead of the pack. However, this should not mean that you have finished estate planning for good.
Estate plans are usually the most effective when they reflect current laws, your current situation and your current estate planning goals. This means that as your life changes, you may need to revisit your estate plan to make sure it reflects those changes.
Some life events should spark a review
Some people regularly review their estate plan with a professional. This may need to occur once every year, every two years or every three years to keep up with changes in estate planning laws. However, some life events may merit a review as soon as possible.
Some of these events include:
- Buying or selling a house
- Buying or selling a business
- Moving to a different state
- Getting married or remarried
- Getting a divorce
- Having children or grandchildren
- Surviving the death of a loved one
Changes in your loved ones' lives may also warrant a review
Many of your life events that should trigger an estate plan review are milestone events, which can make them easy to remember. However, sometimes changes in other people’s lives should trigger changes in your estate plan.
For example, you may have selected your son as the executor of your estate. Unfortunately, if he recently took a new job that keeps him especially busy, he may not have time to take on the additional responsibilities that could be required of him as the executor of your estate, and your daughter may now be a better choice.
It can be valuable to think about the people you selected for specific responsibilities. This could include your agent in a power of attorney, the trustee of your trust, the executor of your estate and others. It may be appropriate to replace any of those people if they have experienced life changes that could affect their ability to perform their duties or that could make someone else a better choice.
You probably took great care when you initially created your estate plan. By making sure your plan remains up to date, you can help ensure that it will work as intended when the time comes to implement it.