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The Importance of Periodic Estate Plan Reviews and Updates

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

Have you ever considered how life’s unexpected twists and turns can affect your future and that of your loved ones? Regular reviews and updates of your estate plan ensure that your personal and financial wishes stay aligned with your current situation. Here we will look at why this process is essential for maintaining peace of mind and safeguarding your assets for the future.

Why Update Your Estate Plan?

Changes in your life can significantly impact how your assets are handled after your passing. Here’s why it’s important to update your estate plan:

  • Marriage or Divorce: These major life changes can alter your intentions for asset distribution. An updated estate plan ensures your current spouse is included or an ex-spouse is removed, reflecting your current wishes accurately.
  • Birth or Adoption of a Child: New family members mean new beneficiaries. Updating your estate plan ensures they are considered and protected in your asset distribution plans.
  • Financial Shifts: Significant increases or decreases in your wealth require adjustments to your estate plan to ensure your assets are allocated as you wish, potentially minimizing estate taxes and avoiding legal complications.
  • Changes in Law: Estate planning laws can change. Regular reviews ensure your estate plan complies with current laws, helping avoid unintended consequences or disputes.
  • Relocation: Moving to a new state can affect your estate plan due to differing state laws regarding estates and taxes. An updated plan ensures your wishes are enforceable in your new residence state.

What to Review in Your Estate Plan

When reviewing your estate plan, focus on several key components to ensure they reflect your current wishes and circumstances. First, examine your will or trust: these documents dictate how your assets are distributed and should be updated to reflect any changes in your family dynamics or financial situation. Check your designated beneficiaries on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial instruments to ensure they align with your current intentions. Additionally, review your power of attorney and healthcare directive to confirm they still represent your choices for who will make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so. Finally, assess any guardianship designations to ensure they remain appropriate for your minor children or dependents. Regularly updating these elements helps safeguard your interests and those of your loved ones.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

In updating your estate plan, avoiding common pitfalls can prevent future headaches and ensure your wishes are carried out as intended. One major oversight is failing to update beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other assets; outdated beneficiaries can lead to assets being distributed to unintended individuals. Another pitfall is neglecting to account for state-specific legal differences, especially if you’ve moved to a new state; laws affecting your estate plan vary significantly from state to state. Additionally, overlooking the appointment of alternates for your power of attorney or healthcare directive can create complications if your first choice is unable or unwilling to act. Ensuring your documents are properly executed according to state laws is also essential; improperly signed or witnessed documents may not be legally valid, thwarting your estate planning efforts.

Unique Estate Law Can Help You Review Your Estate Plan

At Unique Estate Law, we guide you through the complexities of updating your estate plan with ease and clarity. We ensure your plan reflects your current wishes and legal standards. Reach out to us today to secure your legacy and bring peace of mind to you and your loved ones.

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.