Skilled, Strategic, Responsive

  1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. Estate Planning
  4.  → When do I need to change my estate plan?

When do I need to change my estate plan?

If you’ve created an estate plan, you’ve probably breathed a sigh of relief having completed what can feel like a monumental task. While you should give yourself a pat on the back once your initial estate plan is finalized, you shouldn’t rest on your laurels too much. After all, if you want your assets to be passed down according to your wishes, you’ll have to revisit your estate plan as time goes on. Otherwise, your assets could fall into the hands of those you don’t want to support and don’t trust.

But when, specifically, should you think about amending your estate plan? Let’s look at some circumstances that should trigger you to at least take another look at your plan.

Justifications for modifying your estate plan

You can change your estate plan for any reason you deem fit. But here are some of the top situations that should drive you to reconsider how your estate plan is laid out:

  • Marriages: If you or your loved one gets married, then you might want to change your estate plan to either provide for that new member of the family or to specifically exclude them.
  • Divorces: Failing to modify your estate plan after your or your loved one’s divorce could result in your assets being handed down to a jilted ex-spouse who has no intention of remaining in contact with your family or using their inheritance to provide for those you care about. You can avoid this by modifying your estate plan.
  • Deaths: If you don’t remove deceased individuals from your estate plan, then your assets will pass to the next in line to inherit from them, whether through their own estate plan or intestate succession, which may not align with your wishes. So, remove these individuals from your estate plan and be specific about where you want the assets intended for them to go.
  • Changed relationships: It’s not uncommon to have a falling out with a loved one or relative. When this happens, you might not be comfortable leaving your assets to them. In these circumstances, consider removing them from your estate plan or even specifically disinheriting them.
  • The acquisition of new assets: You don’t have to change your estate plan after the acquisition of every single new asset, but if you acquire something valuable, then you might want to specifically address it in your estate plan so that your family doesn’t end up fighting over it.
  • Changed values: Our visions of the future change over time. The things that were once important to you may fall to the wayside, and new interests can arise. When this happens, modify your estate plan to reflect your priorities, especially when you’re leaving money and other assets to charitable organizations.

There are, of course, other justifications to modify your estate plan. Just be cognizant of changes in your life and how they may impact your estate plan so that you’re ready to make changes if needed.

Tackle your estate planning challenges head-on

Estate planning is an ongoing process rather than a one-time event. Therefore, you should revisit your estate plan from time-to-time. You also shouldn’t be afraid to make changes to your estate plan when necessary to meet your goals, even if that means potentially upsetting someone close to you. This is your opportunity to create a significant part of your legacy. Take control of it and use the estate planning process to your advantage.