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How often should you update an estate plan?

Creating an estate plan is a big step to ensure you pass down your assets in the way you want. You also can ensure your family members know your end-of-life care wishes and have a plan in place if you unexpectedly become incapacitated. However, once you create your estate plan, how often do you need to update it?

Updating a will after life changes

You may want to update your will after certain life changes, including the following:

  • You divorce or remarry. You may want to allocate your assets differently after a divorce or ensure your children from a first marriage will receive specific assets if you remarry.
  • Your spouse passes away. You may want to update your will if your spouse passes away, giving your assets to your children or grandchildren or giving some assets to a charity in your spouse’s honor.
  • You have children or grandchildren. You may want to ensure your children or grandchildren receive specific assets in your will.
  • You want to name one of your adult children as your executor. Once your children are 18 or grown, you may want to name one of them as the executor of your estate.
  • You have a child who struggles with substance abuse or isn’t good with money. You may want to update your will and create trust for a child who struggles with substance abuse or who isn’t good with money. With a trust, you can name a trustee to handle giving your child access to their inheritance, to limit it so your child doesn’t feed their addiction with their inheritance or spend all their inheritance quickly.

Updating other estate planning documents

You may want to update your other estate planning documents, such as your living will or power of attorney documents, as you age. You may change your mind about what end-of-life care you want to receive as you grow older. You may need to name a new health care power of attorney or financial power of attorney if those you appointed in an earlier estate plan now have died.

After retirement, you should revisit your estate plan about every five years. As tax laws change, you may need to address those changes in an updated estate plan. You always want to maximize the assets your beneficiaries may receive and ensure your estate plan reflects your current wishes.

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