Your estate plan should always reflect your current circumstances and intentions. Certain life events can trigger a need for changes. When should you review your estate plan to see if changes should be made?
Your family dynamic changes
Did you get married? Did you get divorced? Did you have a child or grandchild? Did a loved one pass away? People may have to be added or removed from your documents.
You do not want your spouse to find out the hard way that your deceased mother is still the beneficiary on your life insurance policy that you purchased years before you got married.
You move to another state
Estate planning documents can be very state specific and you want to be sure that your documents meet the legal requirements of your new state of residence. Although a state may recognize your original documents, drafting new documents in your new state’s format may make matters go more smoothly.
Your health changes
Has your health taken a turn for the worse? If so, do you now have to consider what would happen if you can no longer make decisions for yourself? Will you need long-term care? As we get older, we must consider dealing with age related health issues that may arise.
An agent’s or executor’s situation changes
Can the person you appointed still do the job? Did your healthcare agent move away so it is no longer practical for him or her to handle your medical decisions? Has your relationship changed? Is he or she in good physical health to handle the responsibilities of acting on your behalf?
Your financial situation changes
Have you recently received a large sum of money such as an inheritance? Do you now have new tax considerations that did not previously exist? Do you need more control over the distribution of your new assets?
Tax laws change
Whether or not you originally considered the tax implications of your estate plan, you should review your plan when the tax laws change (usually when there is a regime change in Washington) to ensure you are not adversely affected by the new laws.
A significant amount of time passes
Were your documents drafted many years ago? Can witnesses still be located if they are required to appear a testify?
Your estate plan should be tailored to your life. What was right for your in the past may not be right for you today. If your life changes, your plan should also change.