Having an estate plan is immensely useful. If you have already created your plan, you may feel as if you are ahead of the game. While you should certainly feel proud and accomplished for taking a step that many people in New York and elsewhere put off until it is too late, it would be wise for you to remember that you need to update your plan as well.
If you do not review and update your will periodically, you run the risk of having outdated information and essentially having an estate plan that does not do you or your family any favors. The relevance and applicable nature of the information in your plan are just as important, if not more so, than actually creating the plan in the first place.
When should you update?
In general, you may benefit from reviewing your estate plan every few years. This action can ensure that the information in your plan still reflects your wishes and gives you the opportunity to alter any details that you may have changed your mind about over the years. Of course, some life events may warrant updates to your plan sooner than your intended review time, such as:
- Change in assets: At the time you made your plan, you may have specific ideas about who should get what and how much. However, if your assets or debts change considerably, you may want to revisit your plan and possibly adjust how you divide your property.
- Change in location: Most people move from their home states at some point in their lives. If you created your estate plan in one state and then move to another, updating your plan to coincide with the laws of the new state is important.
- Change in relationships: When you created your plan, you may have included everyone you considered a loved one at the time. However, you may later welcome children or grandchildren or you may go through a divorce, and either could warrant an update to your plan.
Of course, a number of other life changes could also result in a need to update your plan. If you leave your family with outdated information, you may be setting them up for an even more difficult time after your passing. Working with your legal counsel can help you determine what changes you may need to make to keep your estate plan current.