An estate plan is not static. Even if you have prepared the proper documents to achieve personal and family goals during your life and have taken steps to ensure that your wealth is distributed according to your wishes upon your death, a regular review and revision of your estate plan is critical to avoid unintended consequences of an out-of-date plan. Not only do changes in the tax code and other laws need to be considered, but so do changes in personal circumstances.

Begin by asking, “What has changed for me and my family this year?” While changes in your life and in the lives of your loved ones are important on a personal level, they may also have significant implications for your current estate plan that require adjustments be made.

An immediate review of your estate plan is recommended whenever you or someone in your life experiences a major life event, such as:

  • Change in marital status: divorce, separation, or death of a spouse, including the marital status of your children, grandchildren, or parents
  • Additions to the family: birth, adoption or stepchildren (due to marriage)
  • Onset of health issues: illness, incapacity, or death of any family member, or the health status of any guardians, beneficiaries, executors, or trustees named in your estate planning documents
  • Changing estate value: a 20% or greater fluctuation in your net worth due to investment portfolio value, inheritance, or a change in income level, among other causes
  • Business ownership changes: the purchase or sale of a closely-held business interest and any accompanying buy-sell agreements, employee benefit plans, pension plans, deferred compensation plans, etc.
  • New or changing insurance coverage: the purchase or lapse of life, health, disability, or liability insurance coverage
  • Purchase of a second property: unless held in trust, any property located in another state will be subject to the laws (and probate) of that state
  • Change in residency: an estate plan is subject to the laws of the state in which you are domiciled, not where the estate plan was created. State law differs with regard to proper execution (signatures) and what needs to be included in an estate plan in order to make it valid.

Barring any of the above developments, conventional wisdom holds that a thorough review of your estate plan should take place at least every five years. However, a quick annual review is recommended to account for the effect that changes in the tax code and other laws may have on your estate plan.

Our professionals are available to assist you with any questions or concerns and to make sure that when it comes time for your estate plan to be placed into action, it accomplishes all the goals and wishes you intended. Find a local professional or location today.