Your estate plan protects you during a medical emergency and your loved ones after your death. Obviously, you want your plan to be as effective as possible.
One of the ways that you can help ensure that your loved ones and the courts follow your wishes is by regularly updating your estate plan to keep it current and accurate. It is usually a good idea to revisit your estate planning documents every few years just to be safe.
However, if you have experienced any of the three changes below in recent months, then it is likely time for you to update your estate plan.
Your family has changed
Families are in a constant state of flux. They grow when people get married, have children or adopt. They become a little smaller after a divorce or the loss of a loved one. Your estate plan likely includes your spouse, your children and other immediate family members.
You may have to update your beneficiary designations after a divorce or a loss. You may also need to change how you structure your inheritance if you add more children to your family. Updating your documents every time your family adds or loses a member will ensure your documents are as current as possible.
Your assets have changed
Did you create an estate plan when you and your spouse lived in a rental together couple but now you own a house? Have you sold off your lake house or liquidated your investment accounts for your retirement?
When your personal possessions changed significantly, your estate plan will likely also need to change to include new assets or to remove instructions about older assets.
Your health has changed
Your estate plan may include advance directives that discuss your medical wishes. You will likely need to reconsider an update to those documents after a major change in your house.
The onset of Alzheimer’s disease or a diagnosis of cancer could drastically alter your medical expectations and wishes as you age. You may even want to consider adding a trust to your estate plan to protect assets from creditors or help you qualify for Medicaid.
Understanding when it’s time to revisit your estate plan will help ensure that it protects you as much as possible both now and after you die.