How Often Should I Update My Estate Plan?

After people create their estate planning documents (wills, trusts, Powers of Attorney, etc), they often neglect to update them when necessary. Some people are too overwhelmed by the process so they continue to put it off, and some people don’t even realize that these documents should be reviewed and updated regularly.


In my latest webinar, I addressed the question most individuals ask themselves once they’ve created their documents: “How often should I update my estate plan?”


While there are many circumstances that would warrant a review of these documents, there are two general situations that will require you to sit down and make changes — when laws change, and when lives change.


Law Changes

In the past 5 years, we have seen substantial changes in the tax and estate planning laws. Make sure that your designations and terms are taking full advantage of these changes. If you haven’t reviewed these documents with your estate planner in the last half-decade, I strongly recommend that you do so as soon as possible.


Life Changes

There are obvious life changes that occur in which most people would assume they need to update their estate planning documents such as marriage, divorce, having children, the death of your spouse or intended beneficiary, etc, but there are also a few situations that people tend to look over. 


For example, you may be like me and my husband, Jim. When our first son Colin was born, we executed wills, bought a term life insurance policy, and threw those documents in a drawer or safe somewhere in our home. Outside of our annual payments, we really didn’t give these documents much thought. Fast-forward 18 years, and suddenly these documents have mandatory distributions that Colin is supposed to receive at age 25. I’m realizing now that he may not be ready in 7 years to receive everything I had planned for him so long ago. No significant event took place for me to change my mind, but I know now from life experience and raising him that there’s a better timeline for transferring this wealth in a safe and responsible manner.


The bottom line is that it’s normal for people to forget about these documents when there isn’t a present circumstance that would warrant your immediate attention. However, there are systems and life events occurring that you may have overlooked, so you should at least double-check with your estate planner to ensure your wealth is protected and optimized for the future.


Estate Planning with Lefkoff-Duncan

Are you realizing you need to update your estate planning documents, but you aren’t sure where to begin? Lefkoff-Duncan is here to help. Our experienced team will assist you in all of your estate planning endeavors so that you’ll never again need to wonder if you’ve done enough to take care of the ones you love. Give us a call at your convenience at 404-262-2000 to get started.