You may have drafted an estate plan years ago when you first got married or had children. Ever since, you have assumed that those documents will explain your wishes and protect your loved ones if something happens to you.
However, the longer it has been since you created your estate documents, the greater the likelihood that they now contain outdated or inaccurate information. You may need to update your estate plan so that it holds up to scrutiny or challenges in probate court.
When is it time to make big changes to your estate planning documents?
After changes to your family
Has your spouse died? Did you file for divorce? Have you had children or added grandchildren to the family? The more outdated your beneficiary designations are, the easier it might be for someone excluded from your estate plan to challenge your last wishes.
Making sure that you review your documents after any substantial change to your family circumstances helps make the paperwork as enforceable as possible.
When your finances change before you reach retirement age
Throughout your adult life, your financial circumstances will constantly change. You may acquire property or lose a job. You may start a business, only to have it fail.
Whether you need to remove a piece of real estate from your list of properties or choose beneficiaries for new assets, it is crucial that your estate plan accurately reflects your financial circumstances. Changes in your medical situation might also prompt revision. You may want to change your advance medical directive when you find out you have a terminal illness, for example.
Making timely updates to your estate plan will help you feel protected and will reduce the risk of challenges in probate court later.