While many people consider the development of a comprehensive estate plan a single event, many others realize that it is made up of numerous evolving documents that should be regularly reviewed and updated. In general, financial experts agree that an estate plan should be reviewed every three to five to ensure the accuracy of each document. Outside of regular revisions, the estate plan should be updated after every significant life event.
Families will likely experience different types of life events at different rates. From divorce to the death of a relative, it is wise to review your estate plan when an important event occurs, including:
- A change in marital status: Most commonly, individuals will review their estate plan’s documents after a marriage or divorce. The addition or removal of a spouse can have a dramatic impact on the various elements of the estate plan from the will to the powers of attorney. Without revisions, an unexpected death or incapacitation can throw the plan into chaos.
- A new child in the family: Whether it is a new birth, an adoption or a child of marriage, an addition to the family is a joyous occasion. Individuals should not wait too long, however, to ensure this child is protected in the estate plan. Usually in a will and minor trust, the child needs to be included to prevent any future misunderstanding or familial debate.
- A death in the estate plan: While many people write their estate plan to include primary beneficiaries, it is rare to include secondary individuals. When an heir, beneficiary, executor or proxy dies, however, it is crucial that a new individual is identified in the various estate planning documents.
After a significant life event, it is wise to discuss your estate plan with an experienced legal professional. Do not hesitate to seek guidance regarding revisions to your will, trust or other documents.