An estate plan is a set of living documents. This means that – with virtually no exceptions unless you have created certain kinds of trusts – you can update your estate plan as frequently as the situation warrants. For example, you can update your advance healthcare directive if your preferences change or your power of attorney designation if you have a falling out with the person named to assume this role in the event of your incapacitation.
Similarly, you can update your will as often as you need to in order to reflect changes in your preferences and/or life circumstances. If you fail to update your will as your life evolves, the court tasked with enforcing it may fail to enforce parts or all of it. Similarly, your loved ones may try to challenge your will by insisting that it no longer reflects your wishes as they were at the time of your passing.
When updates are clearly warranted
It is generally a good idea to revisit your estate plan each time someone in your immediate family and circle of loved ones gets married, divorced, has a child or passes away. Reviewing your estate plan in the wake of these critical life transitions will allow you to make any adjustments that may be necessary under the circumstances.
Additionally, you’ll want to review your will roughly once a year. At that time, ask yourself whether you’ve acquired, sold or transferred any assets that now need to be modified in your distribution instructions that should be followed in the wake of your death.
If you ever have questions about updating your estate plan – whether you should, how you should do it, and so on – don’t be afraid to ask for help. Estate planning attorneys understand relevant state laws inside and out and can assist you with whatever you may need.