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Why people may need to review and update estate planning documents

On Behalf of | May 6, 2024 | Estate Planning

Those who have created estate plans are already ahead of the average person. A large portion of the adults in the United States do not have any estate planning paperwork in place. They leave everything to chance and the opinions of the courts when they die.

Those who do have estate plans enjoy the peace of mind that comes from believing their families should have financial and legal protection after their death. Still, those protections may not be as robust as someone might expect. As personal circumstances continue to change throughout someone’s life, the terms that they need to include in their estate plan may change as well. Regularly reviewing and updating estate planning paperwork is often crucial for the protection of the testator who drafted the documents and their dependent family members.

A review every few years is ideal

It is unpleasant to think about what happens at the end of life, but simply avoiding the topic does not protect someone or their loved ones from legal and financial hardship. Life has a way of shifting slowly so that people don’t recognize when their circumstances may be drastically different than they were just a few years prior.

The average testator would likely benefit from reviewing their estate planning documents every few years to ensure that the terms they included in their documents still reflect their current preferences. Reviewing the documents at least a couple of times every decade can help people identify when they need to remove or add beneficiaries or make changes to the assets that they included in their estate planning documents.

Certain changes could prompt an immediate review

While life often changes slowly in small increments, it can also shift drastically in certain circumstances. The death of a family member, a divorce, a marriage or a birth in the family are all examples of situations that could make it estate planning revisions necessary.

The acquisition or sale of high-value property ranging from real estate to an ownership interest in a business might also make reviewing and adjusting an estate plan necessary. Anytime there have been significant changes to someone’s health, family circumstances or finances, they may need to consider revising their estate planning paperwork.

Regularly checking and updating estate planning documents can help ensure that individuals have adequate protection for themselves and their loved ones. Testators who keep their documents up to date can feel more confident about their legacy and their protection if they become incapacitated.