An estate plan is as much about the peace of mind of the testator as it is about the financial protection of their closest family members. Estate plans outline who will receive property from an estate and also provide guidance for scenarios wherein an individual becomes medically incapacitated and unable to speak up about their healthcare preferences or manage their own finances.
Few things make someone feel as prepared for the uncertainty of life as a robust, custom-created estate plan. However, the terms that someone includes in their will, powers of attorney and other documents may become outdated as they age or their family circumstances change. These are some of the more common reasons that people choose to go back over estate plans and revise existing documents.
Changes to their resources
Maybe someone created an estate plan years ago when they still rented and they have since acquired real property. Perhaps the testator started or inherited a business or sold valuable assets that were once a cornerstone of their estate planning paperwork. Significant changes to someone’s financial circumstances may warrant revisions to testamentary documents to include or eliminate certain property so that the paperwork is as accurate as possible.
Evolving family circumstances
Maybe a testator created their estate plan when their children were in college and based all of their instructions on the youthful personalities of their children. However, family dynamics may have changed drastically in the years since the children finished school. Estrangement, issues with addiction and even unstable marriages may be reason for someone to change who they name as the beneficiaries in their will. Not only does a list of beneficiaries potentially require an update, but it may also be necessary to review which family members will hold the position of authority during estate administration. Divorce, marriage and changing relationships are all reasons to revise documents.
New health information
Perhaps someone has recently learned that they will never have any more children because of health issues, or maybe they face a condition that will cause chronic or fatal symptoms. Not only can one’s looting decline in health or imminent death change someone’s wishes regarding the distribution of their property, but those new health issues might make the creation of advance directives and powers of attorney more pressing.
Anytime there has been a significant change to somebody’s financial, medical or familial circumstances, they may need to reconsider their prior estate planning choices. Knowing when to update estate planning paperwork can be as important for someone’s protection as drafting documents initially.