When should I update my will/estate plan?  It’s one of the most common questions from clients and their advisors.  While there are no set rules, here are some factors to consider:

  • Have there been any changes to your family since you last signed your will/estate documents?
    • Have you gotten married, divorced or become widowed?
    • Have any children been born or passed away?
  • Are your beneficiaries in a different stage of life since you last updated your documents?
    • Were your children young/minors when you signed your documents, but now they’re adults?
    • Have any of your children gotten married, divorced or had children?
    • Has a child or other beneficiary experienced a disability event and is now receiving benefits?
    • Is a child or other beneficiary facing challenges such as addiction, creditor issues or other financial vulnerabilities?
  • Are you in a different stage of life?
    • Have you retired, and perhaps you’re beginning to think about long-term care/nursing home exposures?
    • Are you considering or have you moved to another state?
  • Have there been any changes with the people you’ve named as fiduciary decision makers (executors, trustees, guardians, etc.) under your documents?
    • Has any decision maker died, moved or otherwise changed their role in your life?
    • Are your children now grown and should be named as decision makers?
    • Has any decision maker “aged out” of the role (example: a parent you named who is now elderly and might not be able to fulfill fiduciary duties)?
  • Have you experienced any significant changes in your assets?
    • Is your estate significantly larger than when you last updated your plan?  Should you now consider more proactive estate tax planning, or more protective inheritance planning for your children/beneficiaries who will receive a larger inheritance?
    • Have you acquired assets that might require special planning? (Example: established a business that needs a succession plan, or a rental property that needs asset protection)
  • Have you experienced any significant health changes?
    • Beyond the simple aging process (which itself often brings about new planning considerations), if you’ve experienced any changes to your cognitive or physical status, reexamining your documents is especially critical in case you later lose your ability to sign.

There is one rule of thumb: when in doubt, ask!  If you are a current EPLO client, you are welcome to contact us at any time to have an update discussion with one of our attorneys or paralegals.  If you are not a client, we offer no-cost, no-obligation consultations where one of our attorneys can review your existing documents and circumstances to help you determine if any changes should be made.  A simple conversation might be all you need to reassure yourself that you are in a good spot – or that you have exposures that a few signatures can address.  Either way, stop wondering and let us help you find the answers!

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