It’s important to think of estate planning as a continual process, instead of as a one-time event. The estate plan that was perfect for you in your thirties, when your children were young and your net worth may not have even been in the black is not the estate plan you need as you near retirement age.
As a matter of fact, our lives change so frequently these days that it’s a good idea to review your estate plan every year or two. And if your estate planning attorney offers a program to help you keep your plan updated, you should take advantage of it.
So, what events mean you should update your estate plan?
Life changes often mean you should change your estate plan. Here are some examples:
- The birth or adoption of a child or grandchild;
- Getting married or getting divorced;
- Cohabiting with someone;
- Moving to a new state;
- A change in your financial situation;
- The death or disability of a fiduciary
Aside from changes in your personal life, there are changes in the law that can have a profound effect on your estate plan. The first thing that comes to mind is all the turmoil that’s surrounded the federal estate tax this year – and the uncertainty as to exactly what the law will be next year. Another example is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which affects the validity of certain advance directives. These are things that your estate planning attorney knows about, and can keep you informed of if you ask.
So, whether it’s part of your attorney’s formal estate plan review program, or whether you do it on your own, take a fresh look at your planning documents each year or two. And check with an estate planning attorney to make sure that you don’t need to change your strategy.