Estate planning is a crucial aspect of securing your legacy and ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. A fundamental part of this process is creating a trust and a will, but equally important is regularly updating them to reflect the changes in your life. Let’s explore the question: How often should I update my will?

Life Events Triggering Updates

Each of these life events has a profound impact on your family structure and financial obligations, making it essential to review and update your estate plan accordingly. Here are some examples:

  • Marriage: When you get married, it’s important to review your estate planning to ensure your spouse is included according to your wishes.
  • Divorce: A divorce can significantly alter your estate planning needs, necessitating changes to your estate planning to reflect your new status.
  • Birth of Children or Grandchildren: The arrival of new family members may motivate updating your estate planning to include them in your estate plans.
  • Loss of a Loved One: If a beneficiary or significant person in your will passes away, you may want to revise your estate planning to account for their absence.

Key Factors Necessitating Regular Updates to Your Estate Planning

Asset Changes:
When the size of your estate significantly changes, so may your estate planning. Whether you experience a significant increase or decrease in assets, acquire new properties, or undergo changes in your financial goals, these factors can influence how you wish to distribute your wealth.

Relocation Considerations:
Moving to a different state or country may necessitate updating your estate planning to comply with the local laws. Estate planning laws can vary widely, and ensuring your estate planning aligns with the regulations of your new residence is crucial.

Changes in Beneficiaries, Trustees and Executors:

Relationships change over time, and so may your preferences for beneficiaries or executors. Regularly reviewing and updating these designations ensures that your assets go to the intended individuals and that those you trust manage your estate.

Health-Related Considerations:
A decline in health may require adjustments to your estate planning documents. Including provisions for medical care or updating your power of attorney ensures that your healthcare decisions align with your current wishes.

Adapting to Legal Changes:
Laws and regulations regarding change. Periodic reviews of your will, preferably every five years, help you stay abreast of legal developments and make any necessary adjustments.

Business Ventures and Investments:
If you’re involved in business ventures or investments, changes in these areas should be reflected in your will. Starting or closing a business may require updates to ensure that your assets are appropriately distributed.

The Importance of Regularly Updating Your Estate Planning for Life’s Changes.

Updating your estate planning is not a one-time task but a continuous process that should evolve with your life. Regular reviews every few years, coupled with a proactive approach to major life changes, will ensure that your will accurately reflects your current wishes and stands up to legal scrutiny. Take the time to review your will periodically and consult with legal professionals to make any necessary adjustments for a comprehensive and up-to-date estate plan.

“Serving Lake and Mendocino Counties for nineteen years, the Law Office of Dennis Fordham focuses on legacy and estate planning, trust and probate administration, and special needs planning. We are here for you. 870 South Main Street Lakeport, California 95453-4801. Phone: 707-263-3235.”