If you completed an estate plan, you already have a good start on protecting your legacy. However, creating these documents is only one part of the process; reviewing and revising them over time and after specific events is also crucial.
Event: Your marital status changes
Getting married or divorced can tremendously impact your estate plan, so updating it in light of these developments is crucial. Your beneficiaries might change, as could your wishes regarding final arrangements and substitute decision-makers.
It can also be wise to update your plan if your spouse passes away, or if you are in a committed relationship but are not married.
Event: Your family structure changes
Families and the relationships between people change over time. Thus, you will want to review your estate plan in cases involving:
- Divorce or marriage of a beneficiary
- Having a child or grandchild
These familial shifts can be disruptive. And in the event of your death or incapacity, family conflict or confusion can trigger contentious disputes and delays throughout the administration process if your estate plan does not reflect changes in relationships.
Event: You relocate
States have different laws regarding a variety of estate planning practices and procedures. Thus, if you move to or out of Florida, revising your estate plan can help you address possible changes in statutes regarding:
- Estate taxes
- Property dispersement
- Medical decisions
- Marital property rights
In other words, updating your plan after relocating to a new state can have unintended consequences related to jurisdiction.
Event: Significant financial increase or decrease
Events that dramatically change your assets can be another critical time to update your estate plan. Consider doing so after:
- Buying or selling a business or other property
- Financial windfalls
- Having extensive medical bills
- Taking on new debts
These can affect the distribution of your assets, so updating your plan is typically wise.
Event: It has been five years since you created it
Even if you haven’t experienced any obvious or significant changes recently, updating your plan every five years or so can be a good idea. Doing so ensures your planning documents remain as accurate as possible and continue to align with your wishes and beliefs.