Most people look forward to estate planning as much as they look forward to a trip to the dentist. But while facing your mortality is never enjoyable, it’s essential to regularly revisit your estate plan to ensure it still reflects your wishes and legacy.
A good rule of thumb is that if your estate plan is three or more years old, you should take some time to review it with your estate planning attorney. After all, life is prone to changing quickly. There are also a handful of common life events that pop up and alter your circumstances, creating a need to update your plan. Here are four common scenarios you may encounter that warrant a review of your estate plan:
Adding or removing beneficiaries
New additions to the family, such as a new baby, grandchild or in-law, are a good reason to update your plan if you wish to name them specifically. On the other hand, if you divorced, remarried or became widowed since you wrote your will, these are instances in which it may be appropriate to delete someone you previously included. You may also wish to remove a family member who has proven they are irresponsible with money or who is now estranged from your family.
Changes to assets
Any substantial changes to your estate’s value are worth revising in your estate plan. Whether an increase or decrease, you may need to reevaluate how you chose to divvy up your property and whether it is appropriate for your new circumstances. If you bought or sold real estate or a business, this would also merit an update of your plan.
Outdated retirement plans
A common mistake in estate planning is forgetting to update your beneficiary designations on any IRAs, 401(k)s or other retirement plans, which aren’t determined by your will or trust. Beneficiary designation forms decide who will receive life insurance, financial accounts or other assets, so they must remain up to date.
Changes to executors or trustees
The executor or trustee is responsible for overseeing your assets and dividing them according to your wishes. Just as with beneficiaries, life circumstances can make the person you initially chose for the role no longer an ideal option. Perhaps they moved away or passed away, or they are no longer appropriate for the task.
There are countless reasons why it may be necessary to update your estate plan. Reviewing your plan every few years or after a major life event will ensure your last wishes are upheld.