Allison Harrison
August 1, 2022

Revise and Thrive: Why Regularly Updating Your Estate Plan is Essential

I Only Need to do My Estate Plan Once, Right?

It's a common misconception that estate planning is a one-off task, something you can check off your to-do list forever once it's done. I remember thinking the same when I first tackled my estate plan at the age of 20. It felt like a mature, responsible thing to do, and once it was out of the way, I believed I wouldn't have to think about it again. But life isn't static; it evolves, and so do our circumstances and relationships. The idea of 'set it and forget it' in estate planning is, therefore, a bit of a myth. It's more like an ongoing process that needs revisiting as we navigate through different stages of life.

Key Life Events That Call for an Estate Plan Review

There are certain life events in which you may want to update your estate plan: 1) you got married, 2) you got divorced, 3) you had a new child and 4) you had a significant change in economic status."

Life has a way of throwing curveballs, and as I progressed from a fresh-faced 20-year-old into my later twenties, I realized just how much these changes can affect an estate plan. Marriage, for instance, isn’t just a union of hearts; it’s a merger of assets and the future. Similarly, a divorce can significantly alter your plans for distributing assets. The birth of a child is another monumental event. Suddenly, there’s this tiny human whose future you will want to secure. And let’s not forget the other financial highs and lows that we all may experience. A promotion, a new business venture, or even a financial setback or loss - each of these events can drastically change what we have and how we want it handled after we’re gone. Our estate plans need to keep up with these life changes to truly reflect our current wishes and circumstances.

Navigating Changes: When Your Beneficiaries Alter

Life is unpredictable and can lead to significant changes in who your beneficiaries might be over the years. If your sister is your primary beneficiary and predeceases you, it’s crucial to revisit your estate plan. By revisiting your estate plan, you will ensure that your estate is distributed according to your current wishes and circumstances. It’s not just about major life events; sometimes, it’s also about how the dynamics within your circle grow, making it necessary to reevaluate your plan.

Reflecting on Loss: How Grieving Influences Estate Decisions

The passing of a parent or a close loved one often brings a new perspective on life and mortality. These events can serve as a reminder of how brief life is, prompting many to review and update their estate plans. This reflection period can lead to more thoughtful and meaningful decisions about how you wish to pass on your legacy, ensuring that your estate plan resonates with your most current life views and values.