When Should I Review My Estate Plan?

Answer: You should review your estate plan at least every three years. If you’ve created your estate plan, you have the peace of mind of knowing that your family and your assets are protected. But don’t forget that there will be events that happen in your life that can affect your estate plan. That means you’ll still need to review your estate plan and adjust it at times to ensure that it continues to reflect your needs and achieve your goals. Here are 5 types of events that can trigger the need to review your existing estate plan:

  1. Family changes. If there’s a marriage, divorce, birth, or death you should think about how your estate plan will be affected. A new child or grandchild would mean adding new beneficiaries. Certain life events could also trigger changes to your choices of guardians, executors, trustees, or health care agents. For instance, if your daughter gets divorced, you’d likely want to remove her ex-husband from your estate plan. If one of your beneficiaries dies, you’d need to rethink the distribution of your estate.
  1. Health changes. If you suddenly have a serious health problem, you may want to update your instructions in your living will or health care proxy for the kind of care you want to receive. If a family member becomes ill, you may want to offer them financial help now, which may mean making adjustments to your estate plan.
  1. Work changes. If you retire, you could choose to withdraw from your IRA funds, which could trigger you to reevaluate your estate plan. If you have a family business, you may want to sell it or convert a sole proprietorship into an LLC or corporation, which could mean a significant change for your estate plan.
  1. Market changes. If the total value of your estate has fluctuated by more or less than 20 percent, this should prompt an estate plan review. A significant gain could provide you with assets you may want to gift to children or grandchildren to reduce or remove estate taxes.
  1. Law changes. Tax law changes all the time, so reviewing your plan is the best way to either take advantage of any new changes that could benefit you or revise your plan so these changes do not adversely impact your estate.

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