Now that spring has officially arrived, you may be thinking about organizing that closet or desk drawer which fell into a bit of disrepair over the winter months.
It is time for spring cleaning, and as part of your annual ritual, you may consider tidying up your estate plan along with your living space. Of course, you do not need to modify your estate plan every year, but after significant life events, it makes sense to update your plan to ensure it accurately reflects your wishes. A divorce, inheritance or having more children or grandchildren are all occasions to update your will. And estate plans benefit from the occasional tweaking regardless of what has occurred since your last update.
The benefits of regular updates to your will, trust and powers of attorney
A comprehensive, up-to-date estate plan is essential for everyone. From end-of-life care to preventing disputes between adult children, estate planning can go a long way toward easing the burden on loved ones if something should happen to you.
By updating your estate plan, you can ensure that:
- Your current plan accurately reflects your wishes. If you have not touched your estate plan in many years, it may not be clear what you intended in your original will. A common example is if you intended to give your car to a specific individual. Did you mean the car you owned 20 years ago, or your current car? What if you now own two cars? By revisiting your estate plan you can be aware of these issues and ensure your changed financial and family circumstances are accounted for.
- Life changes are accounted for. Circumstances change, as do people. A loved one or relative may be in different financial circumstances than when you originally created your estate plan. A grandchild with health concerns may need money more than other grandchildren, for example. You may have adopted a rescue dog and want to ensure it is cared for with an animal companion trust. Updating your estate plan can account for these changes.
- You lower the risk for disputes. Ambiguity in estate plans is kindling for disputes among potential beneficiaries. By updating your estate plan, you are adding clarity. This helps ease the burden on loved ones and beneficiaries and mitigates the risk for disputes and will contests.
Updating may not require a significant time
Updating an estate plan does not necessarily mean starting over. In many cases you can amend an existing plan to better reflect current circumstances without needing to spend the time and expense of creating a completely new estate plan.
And, once updated, you can rest easy knowing your estate plan will likely be accurate for several more years. Unlike the closet, which will likely need a spring cleaning again next year.