Most people don’t take the time to create an estate plan. Instead, they trust the state to distribute their assets according to intestate laws. This means if you’ve written a will or put any of your assets into a trust, you’re already well ahead of the curve. But are you done?
The odds are you’re not. So long as you live, your life and circumstances will change. Many of those changes can affect your estate plan. They may render some parts obsolete or make others less beneficial than they were at the time your plan was created. This isn’t a sign your estate plan was bad when it was created, but as Forbes notes, you might be harming your estate if all you do with your plan is let it sit around and collect dust.
Staying on top of changing circumstances
The best estate plans are tailored to suit your needs. They use the tools available within the law to meet your goals as well as they can. And any change to your needs, goals or the law could make it a good idea to update your plan. Some of these changes include:
- Changes to your family and possible beneficiaries. These may include births, deaths, marriages, divorces and remarriages.
- Changes to your assets, such as the purchase of a new home, the development or sale of a business or the changing value of an investment.
- Changes to the law. If lawmakers introduce new tax structures or change the monetary caps on different services, they can impact your existing estate plan.
- Changes to your health or the health of a close relative. These may prompt you to add or update any medical directives.
- You move to another state. Forbes reminds us that estate planning relies heavily on state laws, and you want to be covered in your current state.
There are many other reasons you might update your estate plan. You can’t always anticipate them. For example, you might need to change your executor, or you might choose to restructure the way you bestow certain assets. Maybe you schedule the payments to one beneficiary to avoid giving that person a lump sum.
The value of updates
There’s value to updating your estate plan at regular intervals. Life changes all the time. Though many of these changes may affect your estate plan, it’s not always clear when they do.
That’s why Forbes recommends revisiting your estate plan every few years. Your attorney can review how things have changed and help you check if there are better ways for you to meet your goals. Sometimes a simple revision can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.