So you’ve got a solid estate plan—why fool with it? Because, for many investors, “set it and forget it” is not good estate planning advice. Your life (or your heirs’ lives) may likely change over time, and those changes often necessitate updating your estate plan. I suggest you make sure your estate plan matches your current life circumstances by revisiting it once a year.
In addition to regular reviews of your estate plan, there are times when key life events trigger the need to revisit your plan.
I believe your estate plan should be reviewed and updated when any of the following key life events occur:
- The birth or adoption of a new child or grandchild.
- A child or a grandchild becomes an adult. There are different rules for minors and adults.
- A child or grandchild needs educational funding.
- The person you’ve named to be the guardian of your children dies or has a change in circumstances.
- The number of your dependents changes. You may adopt a child or begin caring for an adult.
- You or your spouse’s financial situation changes. If you and/or your spouse begin making more –or less—money, you’ll want your estate plan to reflect that.
- Marriage or divorce.
- Illnesses or disability. You, you spouse, or your beneficiaries may need additional money for care and/or medical bills.
- Changes in your life or your long-term care insurance. If your coverage changes, your estate plan may need to as well.
- The purchase of a large asset. If you buy a new home, vacation home, or business, the new asset should be included in you plan.
- Significant new debt. If you borrow a large sum of money, the repayment plan should be addressed in your plan as well.
- A substantial increase in the value of your assets. Maybe you own real estate that suddenly becomes hot and is worth a lot more than when you established your estate plan. Its new worth should be updated in your plan.
- An inheritance or large gift.
- Changes in federal tax laws.
Even if none of these events occur, I believe it’s wise to remember that creating an estate plan is not a “one and done” event. In my view, it’s a “one and redone” as needed event that should be revisited annually.
Since RPOA offers a comprehensive approach to financial planning for retirement, we can offer advice about estate planning, working in conjunction with your attorney. We’d love to talk with you.
Disclosure: The estate planning information provided is general in nature, for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult with an attorney regarding your specific legal situation.
Ken Moraif, CFP®, MBA
Senior Advisor at Retirement Planners of America