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When should you update your will and estate plan?

A strong will and estate plan work together to protect your property and ensure that the people and organizations that matter to you benefit from your planning when the time comes. Many people put off creating these important documents until it is too late, leaving their loved ones with a legal mess to sort through when they pass away. Others create estate plans and wills that they never update, assuming that simply having these plans in place is all the protection they need.

Unfortunately, many life events may impact these documents, creating conflicts between the wishes outlined in a will and the beneficiaries of the will creator. Similarly, estate planning laws are not written in stone, and may change without much publicity, complicating some estate plans that do not keep up with the changes.

If you have a will and an estate plan in place, it is important to review them whenever you experience a life event that presents complications. Taking time to make changes as the need arises makes your wishes clear to the ones you love and protects against costly, frustrating complications later on.

Reasons to update your will and estate plan

It is wise to look over your wishes and your estate plan any time that your list of beneficiaries changes. This includes:

  • Marriage and remarriage
  • Divorce
  • Death of a spouse or beneficiary
  • Birth or adoption of a beneficiary
  • Legal dependents aging into adulthood

In many cases, it is important to consider these events in your beneficiaries' lives as well. If your child gets married, has a child of their own or gets divorced, this may impact your will as well as their own.

You should also review your will and estate plan whenever the nature of your estate changes significantly. If, for instance, you gain a large or complex asset, such as a business or a piece of real estate, your will and estate plan could reflect this change.

On the other hand, if you lose a large portion of your assets or face legal complications with an asset, this also warrants a review of your planning documents. In many cases, these events can cause significant conflicts among surviving beneficiaries, who may argue intensely over who gets which part of an estate that is much smaller than described.

Review now for peace of mind

You plans are your own, so it is important to ensure that they represent your wishes accurately and effectively. Strong, up-to-date documents protect your legacy and provide you peace of mind to enjoy the life in front of you today.

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