When you build an estate plan, it isn’t a one-time event. The initial set up helps you get your thoughts in order, but your estate plan may be an ever-growing and changing document.
There are a few times when it’s appropriate to update your estate planning documents if you wish to make changes. Here are three of the common times when people may choose to update their estate planning documents (and when you might want to update your own).
1. Your divorce
The first time that you might want to go through your estate plan and at least review it is following a divorce. While some people leave their ex-spouse in the estate plan as they were during the marriage, others may remove them from their wills or take their names off important documents, like life insurance benefits. It’s up to you to decide if this is a time when you want to update your will or estate plan.
2. When you remarry
If you later remarry, it’s a smart choice to go back and review your estate plan again. Your original estate plan may apply to the situation you had with your ex-spouse, not the lifestyle you now have with your current spouse. You might have new people you’d like to leave assets to or decide that it’s time to remove your ex-spouse from certain documents at that point.
3. When you have kids or grandkids
Finally, you might want to update your estate-planning documents if you’re having your own children or if you have a new grandchild. You might want to set up a trust for a new grandchild, for example, or you may want to include a step-child or new child with a new spouse in your estate plan. There are lots of things to consider when new children come into the picture, so it’s generally best to review your estate plan at that time if you plan to make changes.
Estate plans are meant to evolve and change over time, so your attorney will be able to help you make the kinds of changes that can help you protect those you love after you pass.
You can address the changes you’d like to make to your estate plan at any time, so don’t think that you’re stuck with making changes only during major life changes. Keep these in mind, though, because these situations usually cause changes that you might want to account for.