Is updating my estate plan worth the effort?

Life doesn’t always go the way we predict. Even when we take measures to prepare for the future, something unexpected can change what we planned for down the road.

If you already have an estate plan in place, you’re off to a good start. However, it’s essential to review and update your plan on occasion, especially after a significant change in your life. Estate plans outline the way you want your assets and property handled for after you pass. And as you grow older, you may acquire new assets that need to be included in the plan.

A few important milestones when you should update your estate plan include:

  • You moved to a new state. Every state has specific estate planning laws. If you’re living in a new state since the last time you updated your plan, you may have to revise it to ensure it’s following the regulations of your current home state.
  • Your relationship status changed. If you got married or divorced since you last updated your estate plan, you must review it. Many people list their spouse as a beneficiary of assets, and it’s likely that you no longer want your ex-spouse to receive any of your property.
  • Your family has grown. You may have become a grandparent in the years since you created your estate plan, and you might want to leave something behind for your grandchild for the future. Now is the time to update the plan to add them to a trust or other asset. Likewise, you may have lost a family member; it’s vital to remove anyone who has passed away from your estate plan as well.
  • You received an inheritance. An inheritance – whether physical property or a large sum of money – is a valuable financial asset that you should include in your estate plan. If you receive an inheritance and do not make use of the property or all the funds, you may have to pass the inheritance onto someone else after your death.
  • You have bought a new house or business. Substantial assets are essential to include in your estate plan, so your heirs know who will receive them after you pass. You can also add a succession plan for your business to your estate plan to guarantee that your business continues the way you want.

Estate planning gives you control over what will happen with your property when you pass. As you go through significant milestones in your life, you must take time to update your plan. Without an up-to-date estate plan, any assets not outlined in the plan can end up in probate litigation, causing trouble for the loved ones you leave behind.