An estate plan is not set in stone and should evolve with the estate planner’s life. For that reason, estate planners should understand when to take a second, or third, look at their estate plan because their lives and needs change over time and their estate plan should reflect that.
Taking a second look at my estate plan
In addition to regular reviews, there are several milestones in the estate planner’s life when they should consider reviewing and possibly updating their estate plan, including:
- Marriage or divorce: The estate planner got married or divorced and wants to add or remove a spouse from estate planning documents.
- Children: The estate planner has a new child and wants to add them as beneficiaries to their will and name a guardian for them.
- Disabled child: The estate planner has a disabled child or grandchild and wants to set up a special needs trust for them.
- Make changes to an incapacity plan: The estate planner’s children are now grown and the estate planner wants to update their incapacity plan to add them to the power-of-attorney and other documents. Estate planners may also want to make changes to their end-of-life care instructions based on changes in health or thinking.
- Financial changes: The estate planner has experienced financial changes and wants to update their estate plan to reflect those changed assets.
- Update designations: The estate planner wants to update designations included in their estate plan such as who will act as executor.
- Charitable donation: The estate planner wants to make a charitable donation from their estate.
- New business: The estate planner has started a new business and needs to include a business succession plan.
Estate planning is an important step for everyone to take and keeping an estate plan up-to-date is equally important to taking that first step. Estate planners should know when to take that important second look at their estate plan and the value of routinely updating it.