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Consider updating your estate plan when your relationships change

Some people assume that they will never need to touch their estate plan after its creation. Unfortunately, this can result in ineffective estate plans or estate plans that do not reflect their wishes at their time of death.

Your estate plan will work best when it reflects current laws, your current situation and your current wishes. To keep your estate as up to date as possible, it may be necessary to update your plan regularly.

When relationships change, so should your estate plan

There are many instances when it may be appropriate to review your estate plan and make updates. Reviewing your estate plan every few years can help keep it up to date, but certain life changes should trigger a review of your plan as soon as possible.

One of these life changes involves changes in your relationships. Sometimes these changes can be major milestone moments. However, relationships can also change subtly over time.

What types of relationship changes matter?

Some examples of important relationship changes include when:

  • You get married or remarried
  • You get divorced
  • A child or grandchild is born
  • A child turns 18
  • A child gets married or remarried
  • A child gets divorced
  • A loved one dies

You may also need to update your estate plan if your executor, trustee or alternate decision-makers become inappropriate. This may be necessary if a loved one's situation changes. For example, if a child takes a new job that keeps her too busy to take on the required duties when the time comes, or if a sibling broke your trust making him a poor choice as an alternate decision-maker.

Sometimes the need to update your estate plan is obvious, but sometimes it can be less clear. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your estate plan always reflects your current wishes. A relationship change may merit an estate plan change if it affects how you want assets distributed, who is named in your estate plan or who you want to serve in a position of trust.

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