Though setting up a comprehensive estate plan is a good step, once that is finished the estate planner is not necessarily done. It is also important to update the estate plan from time to time and for the estate planner to know when to update their estate plan.
An estate plan is intended to accomplish the wishes of the estate planner after they pass. This can include planning for their loved ones and ensuring they are cared for. It can also include ensuring something that is important to them is passed on to the beneficiary they choose. In addition, it can help ensure they are taken care of if they become incapacitated prior to passing and are unable to care for themselves.
There are some circumstances, and life changes, that warrant revisiting the estate plan to ensure it accomplishes the estate planner’s goals and meets their needs as they evolve and change. Good times to update your estate plan include:
- Major relationship changes – if the estate planner experiences a major relationship change it is a good time to update their estate plan to account for the change. This can include a marriage, divorce, birth or death.
- Relocation to another state – if the estate planner relocates to another state, it is also a good time to update their estate plan to determine if any changes need to be made and ensure the estate plan complies with the laws in the new state they are living in.
- Assets or liabilities change – because the purpose of an estate plan is largely to dispose of the estate planner’s assets and account for their liabilities after they have passed, any change to those assets or liabilities should be reflected in an updated estate plan.
- Beneficiary designations are out-of-date – beneficiary designations on retirement plans and life insurance plans, for instance, are controlling which means they need to be kept up-to-date with any changes in the estate planner’s life.
Having a comprehensive and consistent estate plan can provide important peace of mind to estate planners and their families. The importance of updating an estate plan cannot be overstated because, without it, it may not be as effective at carrying out the wishes of the estate planner.