According to Forbes, there are two common errors people make when it comes to estate planning. The first is to fail to have a plan in place at all. The second is to fail to update your will or estate plan every few years, or as life circumstances change. If you have an estate plan, you are ahead of many other people. However, your job is not done. In addition to revisiting your estate plan every two to three years, Forbes details circumstances that necessitate a review.
You get married, divorced or have children
For most people, the most obvious reason to update their estate plans is because the objects of their affection change. For instance, if you add a member to your family, such as a spouse, child or grandchild, you may wish to update your will to reflect the addition. On the other hand, you may wish to delete a formerly designated heir due to a death in the family, a divorce or a falling out.
Estate planning laws vary from state to state. If you move interstate, you may need to update your will or estate plan to reflect the various nuances in state laws, regardless of how minor they may seem. If your end-of-life documents are not in line with your new state’s laws, the probate courts may declare all or some of the provisions invalid. Laws regarding estate taxes also vary from state to state, which is something to take into consideration as well.
Your retirement plan is outdated
The beneficiary designations on your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement plans take precedence over those in your will or trust. This means that if your former spouse’s name is on the beneficiary designation form you filed with your 401(k) nine years ago, but you name your current spouse as the plan beneficiary in your will, your former spouse will get the funds. Most of these forms go unreviewed for 10 or more years. When reviewing your estate plan, take time to also review your retirement account beneficiary forms.
You acquire or deplete assets
Another reason to revisit your estate plan is because the value of your estate has changed. Whether your estate increases or decreases in value, you may need to conduct a review to ensure your plan reflects your current wishes in light of your most recent circumstances.
You no longer feel the trustee or executor is appropriate
If you are like most people, you gave careful consideration to your executor and trustee appointments. However, despite your deliberation, you may find that one or both appointments are no longer appropriate. If this is the case, take the time to identify a better choice for those positions today.