Making an estate plan can help you to better ensure that your wishes are clearly articulated – and ultimately honored – in the wake of your death or incapacitation. Through estate planning, you can determine how you want your assets to be distributed, choose someone to make your healthcare decisions for you if you cannot articulate your own wishes, etc. And having an estate plan also lowers the odds of disputes between your heirs because they’re going to have directions to follow.
It’s often wise to plan early, such as when you become a parent, even though you may still live for another 40 or 50 years. This means that you’re going to need to update your estate plan numerous times. When should you do this?
Life events to consider
It is possible to simply update your estate plan on a set schedule. Maybe you want to go in every other year and review the details. But you can also consider specific life events that may mean that it’s time to take another look at your plan. Examples of these include:
- Getting married
- Getting divorced
- Adopting a child
- Taking out a significant loan
- Selling assets that you own
- The birth of a child or a grandchild
- Selling a business
- Paying off debts
- Encountering health complications
- The death of an heir or a spouse
- Significant changes to the law
Essentially, any time something that you addressed in your estate plan changes in a major way, you’ll need to update your plan to reflect it. If you’ve gotten divorced, for instance, you likely want to remove your former spouse from the estate plan. If you’ve gotten remarried, then you’re also going to have a new spouse that you’ll want to add in.
Adjusting your plan whenever major life events or shifts in preference occur will help to ensure that your wishes are followed and to reduce the odds of a dispute. You may not necessarily want to put off making these changes because it’s important to always have a current estate plan. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.