Q: How often should I update my estate plan?
A: Dear Prudent:
This question highlights a frequent mistake we see clients make with planning. Even if you put an effective plan in place, it can prove completely worthless if it’s not regularly updated.
In fact, failing to update your plan can create its own set of problems that can leave your family worse off than if you’d never created a plan at all.
Your life is constantly changing: families change, laws change, assets change, and goals change. If you want it to work properly, your plan must continuously evolve to reflect these changes.
In the absence of any major life events, you should review your plan at least annually to make sure it’s up to date. However, you’ll need to immediately amend your plan following events like marriage, divorce, births, deaths, moves to a new state, and significant changes to your financial status.
Beyond having your plan not work the way it’s intended to, failing to regularly update your plan can result in other serious complications. For example, if you don’t update your life insurance beneficiary designations following a divorce, your ex-spouse could claim the policy’s proceeds upon your death.