Whether your estate plan involves a straightforward will or a more complex plan of trusts, living wills and other documents, that plan can give you confidence that you are prepared for the future. You can also be confident that you are more prepared than many others; one Caring.com survey indicates that more than half of people do not have an estate plan in place.
However, if your life has changed since your plan was created, you should consider revising your documents so that they reflect those changes.
When your life changes, your beneficiaries may, too.
You want all of your loved ones to be provided for, and when your family changes it can require you to update your beneficiaries. After marriage, you will want your estate plan to include your spouse so that they are provided for after your death and can make decisions in your absence. If your estate plan was made before a divorce, you probably want to remove your ex from your documents so that they reflect your new, single life.
The birth of new children is also an important time to update your plan. Updating your list of beneficiaries and naming a guardian for your child if you were to pass away unexpectedly can ensure that your children are safe even if you cannot care for them yourself.
Changes in your life situation should come with revisions to your estate plan.
Your estate plan is a reflection of your life, your assets and your relationships. When your finances change—whether you come into a great deal of money, you make a major real estate purchase or you fall on financial hard times—that change in your assets will need to be accompanied by a change in your plan. You may need to update your strategy to protect those new assets; for example, you may want to create a trust to protect your wealth rather than using a will to distribute it.
If your health changes, it can also be important to update your estate plan. Your changing health needs can come with the need to plan for a time when you are unable to make important decisions about your own care. Creating a living will or healthcare directive allows you to detail how you want your condition to be treated, and establishing power of attorney gives you the chance to name someone you trust to make decisions if you are unable to do so.
Even if you have not experienced a major life change, experts recommend reviewing your will every three years. Periodically reviewing your estate plan with an experienced attorney will allow your plan to reflect your needs and wishes now and give you confidence that the people and things you care about will be protected.