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How can people know if it’s time to update their estate plans?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2024 | Estate Planning |

A comprehensive estate plan can help to protect someone’s interests if they experience sudden medical challenges. It can also provide support for vulnerable family members. Those who invest in the creation of wills, trusts, powers of attorney designations and other estate planning resources often benefit from protection from many of life’s uncertainties.

However, some estate planning documents can be a cause of conflict. As circumstances change, estate planning needs change as well. If people fail to update estate planning documents in a timely manner, they may put themselves in a position where other people could challenge their documents in court and successfully convince a judge that the documents should not be enforced. To avoid such situations, adults need to occasionally review and update their estate planning paperwork.

Any major changes may require a review

Numerous different types of changes can affect the usefulness and validity of estate planning documents. Changes to a family are a common reason to go back over estate planning documents. Having more children, losing a family member or going through a divorce are all experiences that can drastically alter someone’s estate planning needs. People may need to update their documents to add or remove beneficiaries or appoint different people to positions of authority.

Financial changes can also be a reason to update estate planning documents. If someone acquires valuable new property, they may need to discuss what should happen to those assets after their passing. On the other hand, if they liquidate assets, they may need to remove those resources from their list of assets intended for other people after their death.

Even medical changes can require that someone update an estate plan. Someone facing declining health may want to create durable powers of attorney and a healthcare directive to ensure that they receive the right support.

Regular reviews are a smart practice

Drastic changes aren’t always necessary for an estate plan to become outdated. Sometimes, the slow changes that occur over many years can also render existing estate planning documents outdated and ineffective.

It is often advisable to review an estate plan every few years or at least a couple of times per decade. If a testator notices outdated terms during a review, that may be a sign that it is time to make some updates to their documents. Maintaining updated estate planning paperwork can give people more peace of mind. Testators who commit to regular reviews and updates can maximize the benefits derived from the estate planning process.