Estate planning can be an uncomfortable process for most people. Many people find it unpleasant to think about a medical emergency or their possible future death. Once someone has drafted a will, trust documents and possibly living documents, they may take for granted that they have protection regardless of what occurs in the future.
They may assume that their loved ones would have an easy time carrying out their last wishes and taking control of their assets. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Personal circumstances continue to change even after someone creates their estate plan, and significant changes could potentially decrease the validity or enforceability of estate planning documents.
To prevent people from challenging estate documents as outdated or the courts from invalidating them for the same reason, testators should review and update their estate planning documents as needed.
Life tends to change rapidly
Although some people take for granted that their life will become predictable once they reach certain milestones, like getting married, securing a promotion or having children, the truth is that life continues to change in unexpected ways at every stage in life. The assets that someone has in their own name, the beneficiaries who should receive property from their estate and even their medical priorities may shift dramatically after certain experiences. Many estate planning professionals recommend reviewing and updating documents when someone’s family changes.
Divorces, marriages and the birth of children are all top reasons to review and alter existing estate planning paperwork. Medical changes could also prompt estate planning updates. Even the sale of certain assets or the acquisition of a specific property could make an estate plan review a smart move. Anyone who has undergone a massive change in their personal life could potentially benefit from reviewing and updating their documents.
Periodic review is a smart choice
Even if people don’t feel like their circumstances have changed dramatically, small changes over time could have a big impact on estate planning. Therefore, it is often a smart move for a testator to revise and update their existing documents every two to five years. The scope of someone’s personal holdings and the vulnerability of their dependents can influence how regularly they decide to adjust their estate planning paperwork. Those who take the time to occasionally go back over their documents can feel more confident about their validity and less concerned about the possibility of their loved ones challenging their wishes in probate court later.
Recognizing the value of updated and accurate estate planning paperwork can help people to avoid having their wishes contested in the wake of their incapacitation or death. Seeking legal guidance in this regard is always an option.