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When Should You Update Your Estate Plan?


Estate law is not an area of the law that is constantly changing. Nevertheless, individuals should update their estate plan every few years, not to keep pace with the law, but to revisit the factual details of their estate.

There are many life events that may require your estate plan to be updated. One of the most obvious reasons is an addition to your family, such as marriage or the birth of a child or grandchild. Yet there are many additional events, some of which you may not realize.


Keeping Current with Your State’s Laws

For example, individuals may not realize that they need to revise their documents if they move to a state. Yet estate law is mostly governed by state, rather than federal laws. Accordingly, consult with an attorney to make you’re your asset transfers plans will be valid in the new jurisdiction. Your new state of residence may have different minimum requirements regarding spousal inheritance, whether a state estate tax applies, and whether your will must be signed by a minimum number of witnesses. A different state may also have difference procedures regarding an advance health care directive.

Keep in mind that estate planning involves both probate and non-probate assets. The latter may include assets in a trust, bank accounts with payable-on-death provisions, and beneficiary designations in retirement accounts. If you are using a revocable trust for your own real property and other assets, you need to ensure that the trust has been funded with all your intended assets. Unless assets are specifically titled in the name of the trust, and/or you have a pour-over provision in your will, these assets may unintentionally be left open to probate.

Source: Forbes, “7 Reasons It's Time To Update Your Estate Plan,” Bob Carlson, Dec. 2, 2018

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