Your Estate Plan Shelf Life
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
A common mistake people make is creating an estate plan and thinking they’re set for life. Parts of a good estate plan plan should be somewhat flexible, certainly. However, there are certain things that require the occasional update.
As your children grow, the biggest change is who is in your inner circle and who is still in the position to care for your children if you can’t. As your family grows or changes, your kids’ friends change, their schools change, your circle changes. Relatives you may have relied on may have aged or moved. You should re-evaluate who the guardian for your kids should be as they get older.
Another thing that changes over time is what you own. Different assets need to be handled independently, so it’s important to be sure each asset is accounted for and treated correctly in your plan. For example, a new piece of real estate may need an updated deed placing the property in your existing trust. Similarly, changing employers and/or retirement plans may need an update to designated beneficiary forms. State and federal laws continue to change, which may have implications for your estate plan.
As you up-size, down-size and reorganize your life, it is important to keep your estate plan current. Even the most sophisticated estate plan cannot predict the future. A good plan is both well designed and up to date. Your plan is a snapshot of your wishes when it is created; regular maintenance is necessary to be sure that everything stays on that trajectory. I recommend a five to ten year planning horizon with intention to freshen up your estate plan every few years.
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