While many people consider the development of an estate plan a one-time activity, financial experts agree that individuals should review and revise their documents on a regular basis. Additionally, people will likely need to make alterations based on significant life events.
Numerous articles and pamphlets suggest individuals review their estate plan every 3 to 5 years to ensure the documents still reflect reality and their wishes going forward. In addition, several different types of significant life events should necessitate changes, including:
- Death of a loved one: Whether it is a spouse or a primary beneficiary, the death of an individual listed in the estate planning documents should immediately be addressed. When crafting the estate plan, many individuals include secondary beneficiaries in the event of death.
- Change in marital status: Whether the testator marries, remarries or divorces, this should instantly trigger a new version of the estate plan. These changes not only account for extended family members but also can trigger trusts for new minor children.
- Relocation: While many rules and regulations remain constant, it is wise to explore any state laws regarding the estate plan or probate process. It is important to make revisions as soon as possible to avoid future disruptions.
Most people draft their estate plan and lock it away in a safe deposit box or at their lawyer’s office. However, individuals should constantly review these documents and revise them when necessary. Unfortunately, tragedy knows no boundaries and catastrophic news catches too many families off guard. If the estate plan accurately reflects a decedent’s wishes, it can prevent unnecessary delays and emotional turmoil during the estate administration process.